Chris Sale might have taken the ball in Monday's Opening Day win, but the young left-hander once touted another White Sox pitcher for the Opening Day honor.
By starting Game 1, and starring last season, Sale certainly has earned the title of "ace." But he definitely had a point when he thought the honor of starting Chicago's season could have belonged to Jake Peavy.
Regardless of the rotation's order, the White Sox had two very good Opening Day options. That just makes it tougher for the Royals on Wednesday, when they face another ace in Peavy at 1:10 p.m CT at U.S. Cellular Field.
Peavy is coming off an old-school Peavy season. After battling injuries and not making more than 18 starts since 2008, the right-hander returned to All-Star form in 2012, making 32 starts, logging 219 innings and posting a 3.37 ERA.
"I do have some mileage, and we don't know what the future holds, but I'm going to do everything I can do to stay healthy," Peavy said. "And like I said, I do feel my stuff's a little bit better than it has been at any point in time here. And I hope to fall right in behind Chris and be a top-of-the-rotation guy."
His 2012 record (11-12) wasn't much to speak of, though the low number of wins was mostly because of a lack of run support. It is worth noting, however, that despite all of his success last season, Peavy struggled against the Royals. He lost all three of his starts against Kansas City, getting tagged for a 5.68 ERA.
"There's not a whole lot of name recognition over there, but they got guys who can really, really play and they're going to be right in the middle of things," Peavy said. "We understand that we have to play better against Kansas City to be the team we want to be."
Many of those Royals hitters return in 2013. But the story of Kansas City's offseason likely will define its season, and that's the club's new starters. The Royals unveiled James Shields on Monday, and Wednesday send Ervin Santana to the mound.
Santana will pitch for the first time in a new uniform, coming to the Royals this offseason from the Angels. The 30-year-old was an above-average pitcher for much of his eight-year career in Anaheim, but 2012's struggles (9-13, 5.16 ERA) were enough for the only club he's known to deal him.
The Royals are optimistic Santana can be a big part of their retooled rotation, and he appears set up for a good first impression. Santana equaled a career high with 11 strikeouts the last time he faced the White Sox, last Sept. 21 in Anaheim, and also has a 3.02 ERA in seven outings (six starts) at U.S. Cellular Field.
Royals: Greater experience
• The Royals didn't only add pitching this offseason. They also added experience. Along with Shields, Santana and a host of others, many of the new Royals have played in the postseason. Those additions, coupled with holdovers, have manager Ned Yost pleased with the clubhouse makeup.
"The leadership that we have in our locker room now is phenomenal," Yost said. "You need quality leadership to keep everybody grounded. You need it when you're going good and you especially need it when you're not going good. The manager does it but the less you have to do, the better off it's going to be for everybody involved. That's where having veteran leadership in the locker room is so valuable."
• Monday's loss extended the Royals' Opening Day skid to five straight years. Kansas City hasn't won a season opener since defeating the Tigers in 2008.
White Sox: Paulie the pillar
• Paul Konerko is no doubt synonymous with the White Sox, and rightfully so. On Monday, he made his 13th straight Opening Day start at first base, extending his own club record. It's also the second-longest active streak by any first baseman with a single team behind Colorado's Todd Helton (16).
Another reminder of how long Konerko's been in Chicago and his impact? He needs one hit to tie Frank Thomas for third in club history at 2,136.
• Adam Dunn has eight Opening Day homers, tied with Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Robinson for the Major League lead.
• Billy Butler is a .444 (12-for-27) career hitter with three home runs against Peavy. Jeff Francoeur (11-for-30, .367) and Alex Gordon (8-for-22, .364) also have had success against the righty.
• Konerko is hitting only .171 (6-for-35) in his career against Santana.
• Monday was the seventh time the White Sox and Royals played on Opening Day. Chicago owns a 4-3 edge.