White Sox’ Jake Burger makes presence felt early

DETROIT — Jake Burger was with Triple-A Charlotte when he got a phone call Wednesday as it became apparent Yoan Moncada (oblique strain) was headed to the IL.

“It’s crazy,” Burger said Friday morning before starting at third base for the White Sox against the Tigers on Opening Day. “We opened up in Norfolk [Tuesday], and how many guys can say they played Triple-A Opening day and then MLB Opening Day in the same year? So that’s really exciting.”

Even more exciting was Burger, batting ninth, dropping a two-out double into the right field corner to start a two-run second inning. He scored on a single to right by AJ Pollock, who scored on a double to left by Luis Robert, giving the Sox and right-hander Lucas Giolito a 3-0 lead.

Burger might get two starts in the series with two Tigers lefties starting, La Russa said.

Cease in good place

Saturday starter Dylan Cease enters the 2022 season in a good place.

Cease said he found the feel for his pitches after about 10 days into spring training, liked how his fastball worked, was hitting his spots with his curve and said his changeup was “the best it’s ever been.”

Which is saying a lot. Cease’s fastball, curve, slider arsenal is among baseball’s best, stuff wise. And his changeup has been a plus pitch, too.

Lance Lynn’s injury moved Cease up one spot in the rotation, and as some predict he’ll be the Sox’ best starter this year, Cease said he’s putting no extra burden on himself to shoulder the burden of the team losing Lynn.

“I just try to be the best version of myself every time I pitch,” Cease said. “That is always what I try to live up to.”

Memorable openers

Left-handers Tanner Banks and Bennett Sousa both experienced being in a major league uniform and Opening Day all at once for the first time. It was something Banks had to wonder if it would ever happen. He is 30, after all.

“I’m still shocked,” Banks said, standing at his locker in the visitors clubhouse at Comerica Park Friday.

Banks said he FaceTimed his wife to share the news Tuesday and broke down crying as the call was going through. Manager Tony La Russa gave him the news after the final Cactus League game.

“It was cool,” he said. “We were sitting on the bench, going over the outing. And Tony came over and looked at Ethan [Katz], looked at myself and said, ‘Do you want to tell him or should I?’ ”

Sousa’s family made the trip to Detroit. His parents were his first call when he got the news.

“There was crying on the phone,” he said.

Sousa was informed by the general manager.

“Mr. Hahn told me I was coming to the big leagues,” Sousa said. “All the coaches were there, [assistant general manager] Chris Getz, it was a cool, exciting moment.”

Sousa was drafted in the 18th round by the Sox in 2018 and Banks was taken by the Sox in x.

Lefty Garrett Crochet having Tommy John surgery and the expanded Opening Day rosters opened the windows for the pair of lefties.

This and that

The Sox’ one-year, $4.2 million deal for veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto is close to being official. He just arrived in Arizona, where he’ll face hitters before going to Triple-A Charlotte and likely ramp up with four or five outings.

*Yoan Moncada and Joe Kelly will need rehab stints in Charlotte before they return. Kelly (biceps nerve) has a sim game slated this weekend in Arizona, with a Charlotte target at the end of the month. Moncada’s expected return from his oblique strain is three weeks the Sox say, and that includes getting at-bats in games at Charlotte.

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