The White Sox obviously want to get the season started on a positive note. Funny how that could happen against a team that has given Chicago fits.
Over the last two seasons, the White Sox are a combined 13-23 against the Royals. Kansas City was largely responsible for knocking Chicago out of the division lead late in the 2012 season. The 6-12 mark last year wasn't the only reason the White Sox let the AL Central slip away, but it can't be discounted.
The Royals trot out a pair of new arms to face Chicago this opening series. Monday's starter, James Shields, came over in a trade with Tampa Bay. Ervin Santana takes the mound Wednesday, having come over in a trade with the Angels.
Their counterparts for those first two games are Chris Sale and Jake Peavy, respectively. Jeremy Guthrie, who was red-hot last fall for Kansas City, takes on Gavin Floyd in the series finale Thursday.
The White Sox have been able to score runs against Shields as his 4.76 ERA in 11 starts shows. Sale had a 3.12 ERA against the Royals, though he was 3-3 in six starts against Kansas City.
Monday should give White Sox fans their first look at Jeff Keppinger, who should be batting second and playing third base in his first game with the team at U.S. Cellular Field. The rest of the lineup should consist of familiar names, though the batting order may be scrambled a bit.
Tyler Flowers is the everyday catcher now. Alex Rios should be moving up into the third spot in the order, though he still will patrol right field. We'll be hoping Alejandro De Aza can repeat his 2012 success at the top of the order and look for growth from slugger Dayan Viciedo.
Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko will anchor the middle of the lineup. Dunn looks to continue his power numbers, while Konerko enters the final year of his contract looking to get off to a similar start to a season ago.
Despite taking on an opponent that has given the White Sox problems recently, there has to be the optimism of a new baseball season. It's all ahead of us. Let's hope Chicago can get the 2013 season off to a winning start.
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