White Sox to host Tigers in frigid conditions

The Chicago White Sox will celebrate their home opener Thursday afternoon when they welcome the division rival Detroit Tigers to Guaranteed Rate Field.

That is, as long as Mother Nature allows both sides to play ball.

A bitter forecast calls for temperatures in the 30s and a good chance of rain, but team officials are hopeful that the skies will cooperate for the first game of the season on Chicago’s South Side. The White Sox expect a big crowd on hand as the club looks to take another step forward in its rebuild toward a playoff contender.

Chicago (3-2) showed promise on the road to open the season, and second-year manager Rick Renteria expects to see more of the same from his young core during its first homestand.

“We set very high expectations,” Renteria said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We don’t care what age they are. I don’t want them to pay attention to anything anybody says other than what they say they are to each other.

“I don’t sell my guys short. We set a high bar.”

Detroit (1-4) is looking to establish any kind of rhythm after a stop-and-go start to the season that has included three postponements. The latest one happened Wednesday as frigid weather prohibited the Tigers from playing the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park.

Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire knows that a short trip to Chicago will not provide much of a break.

“It’s not going to be pretty,” Gardenhire said of the weather. “We’re just going to have to deal with it.”

White Sox right-hander James Shields (1-0, 6.00 ERA) will start the home opener one week after he took the ball in the season opener against the Royals. Shields allowed four runs in the first inning but recovered to finish with a respectable six-inning, four-run performance.

In 25 career starts against Detroit, Shields is 9-8 with a 4.43 ERA. The 36-year-old Southern California native has walked 38 and struck out 122 in 158 1/3 innings.

Detroit will counter with another veteran hurler in 31-year-old right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 6.00), who also allowed four runs in six innings in his season debut. Zimmermann is looking to bounce back from the worst season of his career as he went 8-13 with a 6.08 ERA in 29 starts in 2017.

In eight career starts against the White Sox, Zimmermann is 5-2 with a 5.08 ERA. He has surrendered a whopping 23 earned runs in his last 30 1/3 innings against Chicago.

Gardenhire opted to stick with Zimmermann on regular rest and skip left-hander Daniel Norris‘ turn in the rotation after Wednesday’s postponement.

White Sox slugger Matt Davidson will try to stay hot after belting four home runs with seven RBIs in the first five games. Teammate Jose Abreu has pounded two homers, including a decisive shot Wednesday that lifted Chicago to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Tigers have been led at the plate by Nicholas Castellanos (7-for-21, one double, two triples, three RBIs) and Miguel Cabrera (6-for-21, three doubles, one home run, five RBIs) in the early going. Jose Iglesias is mired in a nasty 1-for-16 slump to start the season.

Former White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a fan favorite on the South Side, is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Pierzynski won a World Series championship with Chicago in 2005 and finished his big-league career with 2,043 hits and 188 home runs.