GLENDALE, Ariz. — As expected, Lucas Giolito was named the White Sox starter for Opening Day Friday in Detroit. Sox manager Tony La Russa also said Monday that Dylan Cease will start the second game and Michael Kopech will start the third game of the season.
Lance Lynn, who would have been La Russa’s choice to start Friday, is having surgery on his right knee Tuesday and will be out at least eight weeks.
It will be Giolito’s third consecutive Opening Day start.
The Sox open at home next Tuesday against the Mariners after an off day. La Russa wouldn’t go deeper into naming his starters past the weekend, saying only that Dallas Keuchel would get the fourth or fifth game of the season. Giolito could pitch the fifth game on four days rest, but pushing starters early in the season seems unnecessary.
Vince Velasquez, who starts against the Cubs today in the second to last Cactus League game, is a possibility, as is Reynaldo Lopez. But those two might be needed in relief with Kopech not expected to go deep in his first start. Kopech starts the Cactus League finale Tuesday but is slated for only three innings in his second start.
La Russa didn’t rule out using Kopech in relief in the first two games.
“We’re going to be very open minded,” La Russa said. “It’s a very different first two months for a lot of reasons.
“All hands on deck that first weekend.”
The three and a half week spring training means most pitchers go into the season with lighter buildups to the regular season than usual.
Giolito will be equipped to throw 90 pitches, although he’s an exception.
“The most important thing, the work he did to get ready for this camp has really been impressive,” La Russa said. “He came in ready to pitch. That’s what you look for at the top of the rotation. Lance did the same thing. They came in ready, they’re accountable, it’s classic stuff.”
Lynn felt a pop and burning sensation throwing a pitch Saturday night in a game against the Diamondbacks.
On Sunday, the Sox announced that Lynn has a partial tear in a tendon in his right knee. He was on the injured list last September with right knee inflammation.
“You look at what I was dealing with at the end of last year, it’s in the exact same spot,” Lynn said Monday. “Sounds like it was going to go eventually anyways. Better now than at the end of the season and I’ll be ready for the playoffs.
“If we play our cards right, we can get back in the middle of season and make a run.”
Hopefully I should be ready in June or so if everything goes perfect.”