CHICAGO -- Opening Day pregame festivities at U.S. Cellular Field included Bo Jackson, fireworks and an American Flag being unfurled across the entire outfield.
The action began with announcements of the Royals starters, followed by the remainder of their team taking the field along the first-base line. The White Sox players and staff were then announced, beginning with head athletic trainer Herm Schneider. The loudest ovation was reserved for Paul Konerko, starting his 15th straight Opening Day for the South Siders.
Loud rounds of applause also were let loose for Harold Baines, pitching coach Don Cooper, Dewayne Wise, Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, manager Robin Ventura, head groundskeeper Roger Bossard and Opening Day starter Chris Sale.
A moment of silence was held for White Sox family members who had passed away in the past year, including Kevin Hickey and Bill "Moose" Skowron, as well as those individuals who had lost their lives fighting in the armed forces and the Major League Baseball-wide moment of silence for those who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. The White Sox also recognized those senseless deaths through the violence in Chicago.
The Ponce family did a rousing version of the national anthem, with the American flag unfurled across the outfield by Navy personnel. The ceremony concluded with fireworks and Jackson throwing a strike to Ventura.
"I don't necessarily miss the game that much," said Jackson, who reunited with former teammate Ventura after not seeing him for 10-12 years. "I miss the camaraderie and if you ask any player that's been out of the game for a long time, it's about missing your buddies and your good friends that you used to hang out with."
Danks progressing, attends season opener
CHICAGO -- After throwing approximately 80 pitches during a Minor League game Friday against the Rangers' Triple-A team in Arizona, John Danks made the trip to Chicago to be part of the team for Opening Day festivities.
But the southpaw returns to Arizona on Tuesday, with his next trip to the mound scheduled for Thursday in extended camp. Danks felt good again during his last start, although obviously not where he needs to be.
W: Sale L: Shields SV: Reed
"It's about what it was the time before. Some good and some bad," Danks said. "When I was able to make a pitch, I had some good results and vice versa. I'm working on trying to work back on arm strength, velocity, being able to make the pitches do what I want. I still have a little ways to go."
The White Sox hope that "little ways" means an early or mid-May return. But the truth of the matter is that Danks' shoulder will dictate when he works his way back to the Majors from Aug. 6 arthroscopic surgery and there's a chance that path could take two months or more.
"We are not going to put a timetable on it at this point," general manager Rick Hahn said of Danks' return.
"In talking to the doctors, they warned me to be patient," Danks said. "I don't know what that means. It's not in my blood. Just going to keep throwing every five days and hopefully be ready sooner rather than later. I'm excited to be here. It's a good change of pace for me, being in Arizona, coming here to see this and just rekindles that fire a little bit."
Both Hahn and Danks stressed that the pitcher is not hurt and with the club's long-term commitment made to Danks via a five-year, $65 million deal prior to the 2012 season, it would be foolish to have him pitching if he was. Hahn also stressed again the positive side of Danks' progress.
"He's traveled a tremendous amount of distance in a short period of time since having that surgery last August," Hahn said. "The mere fact that it was possible that he could have broken with us is a tribute to how hard he worked and has been diligent with his rehab."
"I was thinking a year ago I was getting ready to throw in this game. So a lot's happened this past year," Danks said. "This rehab process, in the grand scheme of things, I'm not that far out of surgery, but it feels like I've been out for years now. I'm going to do everything I can to get back as soon as possible but in the grand scheme of things, we're at the mercy of my shoulder. So when that's ready, I'm ready."
Crain ready to go after spring injury
CHICAGO -- Even with the 44-degree Opening Day temperature and the Spring Training-long battle with a right adductor strain in mind, White Sox reliever Jesse Crain was ready for action Monday without any restrictions or limitations.
"He's fine," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "It's different with pitchers than players as far as his side and things like that. He's probably better off than most players that are on the field."
"I'm ready," Crain said. "It's to the point where I can do regular stuff or else I wouldn't be here."
Crain made just one appearance on Feb. 25 until the final week of Spring Training because of that injury. But he pitched his way on to the active roster in that last week, a valuable late-inning component because of his ability to retire left-handed hitters as well as right-handed hitters.
"[Pitching coach Don Cooper] and Robin obviously have my back and they wanted me to be here, which makes me feel good," Crain said. "I knew it wouldn't take long for my arm to be in shape. I just waited for my leg.
"It took time building my leg to be able to trust it. The last outing [in Milwaukee], I was able to prove I don't think about it and go right through it."
Opening Day a little extra special for Hahn
CHICAGO -- Rick Hahn has been through 12 Opening Days with the White Sox prior to Monday. And ultimately the score at the end of the day against the Royals will dictate whether it's a memorable 13th or not.
But Hahn admitted that this Opening Day had a special feel because it's his first as general manager.
"I've always been excited about Opening Day like the rest of you, just like any fan," Hahn said. "It has been a day for optimism and sort of a rebirth and everyone is starting off equal and anything can happen."
Ken Williams, the White Sox general manager for the past 12 years and now executive vice president, was in attendance and continues to be a strong source of advice for Hahn. On Monday, Hahn said the two talked for about 20 minutes concerning a potential waiver claim in which he had interest.
"As someone who has sat in this chair for 12 years, he has been there to sort of hear my gripes and gives guidance here and there about how to deal with some of the added responsibilities that come with the position," said Hahn. "He has been a great resource as a co-worker and as a friend."
Third to first
• Ventura was very succinct when asked for his 2013 White Sox expectations.
"I want to get to the playoffs," said a smiling Ventura.
When questioned if there was any more beyond that goal, Ventura said the playoffs would suffice for starters.
"I'd figure that out when we get there," Ventura said. "But that's the first thing that needs to happen."
• Beyond Dylan Axelrod and Hector Santiago, Hahn listed Andre Rienzo, Simon Castro and Erik Johnson as Minor League starting pitchers who are poised to help the big league club this season.
"Quite frankly, there's a pitcher such as a Jose Quintana last year who just throws the ball real well for six or seven starts and he pushes his name to the top of the list," Hahn said. "One thing we made clear to the guys in the clubhouse down in Spring Training or when we send them out, we don't really care about pedigree or reputation. That's the tone [former GM] Kenny [Williams] set from Day 1, 12 years ago."
• Adam Dunn entered Monday tied with Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Robinson for the most career Opening Day homers in Major League Baseball history with eight.