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Article updated: 3/31/2013 6:15 PM

Sox' Sale set for first opening-day start

By Scot Gregor

Chris Sale has quickly earned his title as White Sox ace.

Considering he signed a five-year, $32.5 million contract extension (with two club options) in early March, Sale figures to be around awhile.

For now, the 24-year-old lefty is focused on making his first opening-day start, which comes Monday afternoon against the Royals.

"I feel like I've got myself in a pretty good place right now," Sale said after Sunday morning's workout at U.S. Cellular Field. "Just kind of looking at this as any other game. There's a little bit of hype around it being the first one and it's Opening Day. It still counts as one. If I go out there and win 10-0, it's still one in the (win) column and vice versa to one loss."

Sale dominated just about every team he started against last season while going 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA in his first year as a starter.

But like the rest of the White Sox, he had his troubles against the Royals.

"You get them right out of the gate," Sale said. "It will be good to set the tone. Set the tone for not only our series against them but for the year. They are a good team.

"They are free-swinging team that makes contact with the ball. They have some guys over there that can hit. They've added some great pitching, too. It's not going to get any easier but we didn't expect it to be any easier."

Final opener?

Paul Konerko makes his 13th straight opening-day start at first base for the White Sox Monday.

Considering the 37-year-old captain is in the final year of his contract, this could be Konerko's last home opener with the Sox.

As usual, he's just focusing on the game at hand.

"Opening Day is different from any other day of the year," Konerko said. "It's exciting and there are a lot of butterflies, especially for the home opener. It's good. It's only one day that feels ... like the playoffs. It's a special day."

Against all odds:

The Tigers are the overwhelmingly favorites to win the AL Central this season, but the White Sox heard similar predictions in 2012 and took Detroit down to the wire.

Chris Sale understands all the preseason projections, but that doesn't mean he agrees.

"I wouldn't say we are trying to prove (prognosticators) wrong, but we are trying to prove ourselves right," Sale said. "We are not worried about I guess what you guys write or what anyone else has to say about us. We believe in ourselves."

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