CHICAGO – After suffering through three very difficult years of rebuilding, White Sox fans had to wait a bit longer.
A 2020 season that rooters of the club have been looking forward to through the winter and early spring was forced to be put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the maturation of prospects and the signing of a few big name free agents, the so much was hoped for from this team that the idea of losing the season was difficult for many.
But on Friday, about four months later than they would have rather had it, opening day for the 2020 campaign begins for Rick Renteria and the White Sox. Playoff expectations are high even in the shortened season, with the hope that this group will end the team’s 12-year playoff drought.
Fittingly, it starts at Guaranteed Rate Field against the defending American League Central champion Minnesota Twins on Friday night to start a three-game series. For Renteria, it’s a great chance to see what his team is made of as they start regular season play.
“We just need to go out and see where we’re at, don’t we? We have to perform, we have to execute,” said Renteria. “They’re (Minnesota) are a very good ball club. We have to try to put our best foot forward, and see where we’re at right now. All things being equal, I think we’re in a good spot, I think we have a lot of young men who are confident in what they’re capable of doing. I think they’ve grown a lot.
“I think that the process that’s been occurring over the last three years now will be able to give us some fruit.”
Some of that was seen during the team’s three exhibition games the past week, especially the two against the Cubs. The team showed power at the plate and consistency in pitching in pulling off a pair of wins against the team that has been used to winning the past half-decade.
Nicky Delmonico, who will start in right field on Friday, was on those White Sox teams that often had trouble with Cubs teams competing for championships. For him, 2020 felt much different when facing the crosstown rivals.
“Normally when we stepped on the field with the Cubs, we felt outmatched. This was the first time when we stepped over at Wrigley I felt like ‘Man, I felt like we were going to, you know, I don’t want to say a bad word on TV, but I felt like we were going to destroy them,” said Delmonico on Friday. “I felt like we were just going to beat them with out lineup. Our lineup is so good, 1-through-9, and we have so many guys on the bench. It’s tough to get through our lineup twice without having any damage done.
“Just feeling the presence in the locker room, the confidence we have, the pieces that we’ve added, the young talent, it’s a dangerous lineup and I think if we can put it all together, which we have been, it’s going to be pretty special.”
He’s not alone in that thinking as a much anticipated 2020 season finally begins Friday night for the White Sox.