MLB: Sale named Sox's Opening Day starter before roughest outing of spring

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Manager Robin Ventura told Chris Sale he was the opening day starter before the prized White Sox left-hander experienced his roughest spring outing.

Sale, who won 17 games in his first season as a starter, was tagged for five runs on seven hits in five-plus innings Saturday in the Sox’s 11-5 victory over the A’s.

“We feel very confident giving him the ball for the first start,” Ventura told reporters afterward about Sale, who will face the visiting Royals on April 1.

Ventura said he delayed making the inevitable decision because he wanted Sale get his work in.

“It’s something to motivate him the last 2 weeks to get out there and go. He’s ready to do that.”

“I have one goal in mind, and that’s preparing myself for opening day, the next day or 3, 4 days after that,” Sale said after his outing without referring to the opening day not. “Wherever I fall in, I’m going to pitch.”

Back stops backstop: Catcher Tyler Flowers (lower back stiffness) expects to return soon and isn’t worried about limited range of motion.

“I never had much,” quipped Flowers, who has missed the past two games.

Hector Gimenez, starting in place of Flowers, went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and now is batting .500 (11-for-22) this spring.

Injury report: It’s uncertain whether reliever Jesse Crain (right adductor strain) will pitch in Sunday’s B game against the Dodgers. … Reliever Ramon Troncoso cracked a fingernail on his right pitching hand but is expected to return soon. … USA Today reported that right fielder Alex Rios was stepped on by a Team Puerto Rico teammate but is expected to be OK.