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Mar 26, 2024 9:09 pm

Rebuilding White Sox open with Tigers, who seek upward climb

Tarik Skubal

Chicago White Sox left-hander Garrett Crochet will make his first career start on Opening Day when the team hosts the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.

Crochet counts 72 relief appearances on the heels of that assignment, but the White Sox still are glad to have a veteran around behind the plate should Crochet need additional calming.

Catcher Martin Maldonado is one of several new faces for the White Sox, and the team will look to his presence to help a revamped starting rotation jell.

“That’s basically why Maldonado is here,” Chicago manager Pedro Grifol said. “His ability to handle a staff, his ability to navigate through a lineup, his ability to recall between at-bats.”

Crochet was considered for the Opening Day slot following the March 13 trade of presumptive ace Dylan Cease to the San Diego Padres. Crochet is coming off a year of injury struggles in which he appeared in just 13 games.

It’s a rebuilding season for the White Sox, and general manager Chris Getz may entertain overtures for third baseman Yoan Moncada and outfielder/designated hitter Eloy Jimenez as the season progresses.

The White Sox avoided potentially bad news concerning center fielder Luis Robert Jr., who was hit by a pitch in the left arm during Monday’s intrasquad game against Triple-A Charlotte but emerged unscathed.

“When it happened, I heard the elbow guard and I’m like, ‘OK, he’s been hit there before,'” Grifol said.

Chicago will face a lefty with far more starting seasoning in Tigers ace Tarik Skubal, who found that the progressive workload of spring training “served its purpose” and prepared him for the season.

Skubal, who also dealt with injury in 2023, was 7-3 with a 2.80 ERA in 15 starts to help the Tigers finish 78-84. That was good enough for second place in the American League Central, nine games behind the Minnesota Twins and 17 clear of the fourth-place White Sox.

Skubal allowed one run and three hits while walking two and striking out six in five innings against the Philadelphia Phillies in his final spring tune-up last Friday.

“The last two outings have been like mentally, physically grinds,” Skubal said. “It’s good to experience that, especially with the heat and humidity, like trying to stay hydrated and not cramp. I think that’s more mentally where I was focused at than even what’s going on sometimes, so it’s good.”

Detroit invested heavily this offseason in its bid to bounce back and return to the postseason for the first time since 2014. The Tigers’ victory total in 2023 was their highest since the 2016 club won 86 games.

Detroit added multiple veterans to the mix, including outfielder Mark Canha, infielder Gio Urshela and starting pitchers Jack Flaherty and Kenta Maeda.

Thursday brings renewed optimism as a core including center fielder Riley Greene and first baseman Spencer Torkelson works in with the team’s new faces.

Skubal is 5-2 with a 4.73 ERA in eight career starts against the White Sox. He defeated Chicago in each of his two starts against it last season, pitching to a 1.50 ERA over 12 innings.

Crochet is 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA in seven career appearances against the Tigers with 13 strikeouts and zero home runs allowed in 10 innings.

–Field Level Media

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