Game 1: Ventura loses debut

Monday’s Cactus League opener for the White Sox and Robin Ventura’s managerial debut ended in a 6-4 loss to the Dodgers. Here’s a quick look at the breakdown.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The infield defense looked as if it would be a White Sox strong suit this season even before Monday’s showing, and stellar second-inning plays from shortstop Alexei Ramirez and second baseman Gordon Beckham on hard-hit groundballs backed up that assertion. Jim Gallagher, who is competing for the roster’s final position player opening, added a leaping catch at first base, and the White Sox also threw out James Loney at the plate on A.J. Ellis’ double via a perfect relay throw from Kosuke Fukudome to Beckham to Tyler Flowers to end the fifth.

Philip Humber looked smooth and efficient over two innings, and every other hurler but Nestor Molina was unscored upon. Hector Santiago threw two scoreless innings in his quest to claim one of the long relief vacancies.

Dan Johnson brought the team close in the ninth with a two-run blast to right, adding his name to the list of players on the roster bubble who started off strong. Most importantly, Ventura got the first game as manager under his belt, and although he didn’t come away with a victory, he’s happily moving forward after what he saw.

“Alexei had a great day. Defensively, I like what happened,” Ventura said. “You work on certain stuff and you see it happen out on the field and you’re happy about it. We had a nice relay with Kosuke (Fukudome) to Gordon, stuff you work on and you’re happy to see they’re getting it.”

WHAT WENT WRONG: Not exactly the debut looked for by Molina, who has been projected by the White Sox as a future frontline starter. It’s unfair to nail the rookie for one rough effort, especially in the first game of Cactus League action. But the right-hander acquired from Toronto in the Sergio Santos deal really did get hit hard over his 1 1/3 innings. Ventura, for one, was not getting down on one of the White Sox top prospects.

“I like his competitiveness and what he has when he goes out,” said Ventura of Molina. “He has a presence on the mound. He has good stuff, there’s no doubt about it.

“It’s one of those days is how I look at it. First day, he’s trying to impress but good stuff. He’s going to get more chances.”

Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Beckham combined to finish 0-for-5, but again, it’s Game 1 and absolutely nothing to be read into with so much more to play.

WHAT’S NEXT: John Danks and Matt Thornton both make their Cactus League debuts on Tuesday, as the White Sox travel to Tempe for a game with the Angels. Look for Dunn at first base, Beckham hitting second and Brent Lillibridge playing third.

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Ventura walking to the mound to remove Molina in the sixth. He’s hoping these sorts of trips don’t become too frequent during the upcoming season.

MOMENT TO FORGET: Scott Van Slyke’s sixth-inning home run off of Molina is still sailing somewhere toward Mesa. He simply crushed that particular offering.

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