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White Sox begin quest to get back into postseason

Pitchers and catchers open camp at Camelback Ranch
MLB.com @scottmerkin

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With pitchers and catchers reporting to Camelback Ranch for Friday's first Spring Training workout, the goal for the 2016 White Sox remains simple and straightforward: Reach the postseason.

That goal is shared by 29 other teams, but it's one that has eluded the White Sox since 2008. Chris Sale, one of the best pitchers in the game, has never had a chance to work in such a super-charged atmosphere.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With pitchers and catchers reporting to Camelback Ranch for Friday's first Spring Training workout, the goal for the 2016 White Sox remains simple and straightforward: Reach the postseason.

That goal is shared by 29 other teams, but it's one that has eluded the White Sox since 2008. Chris Sale, one of the best pitchers in the game, has never had a chance to work in such a super-charged atmosphere.

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"It's the only reason we show up, really," said Sale, who met with the media Friday afternoon after throwing his first bullpen session. "This is my seventh season, sixth full coming up. I've never even had a taste of it.

"Nobody cares what you do in the regular season. You get into the playoffs and nobody hears about the teams that didn't go to the playoffs. Nobody really cares about who came in second place. So, we have to go. We have to win."

Work began toward that goal with Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, John Danks and Mat Latos among the hurlers working off the mound with Sale. All but a handful of position players are already in camp, although they don't have to officially report until Tuesday.

Tweet from @whitesox: What happened during day 1 at camp? Read about it all here: https://t.co/GJ09Ozv4jr #SoxSpringTraining pic.twitter.com/URLQ4wz7Z2

One component of that potential playoff appearance becomes a good start to the season. The White Sox have a tough April schedule with 16 road games and are known to be notoriously slow out of the gate. So, a few changes could be implemented by manager Robin Ventura over the next six weeks in Arizona to facilitate a better open.

"You want to win games down here. But you want to hit well," Ventura said. "Even last year, I don't think we hit all that well when we were down here and that had a lingering effect.

"Hopefully, we can get guys more at-bats early. The pitchers have done fine down here, but hitting, you want to be able to see a little more offensive production than we've had the last couple of years."

General manager Rick Hahn spoke of a high level of confidence in his team, pointing to the strength of the pitching staff and the offensive upgrade at various positions. On the flip side, Ventura talked about the bad taste still lingering from last year's 76-86 disappointment.

"Absolutely. I think a lot of guys have it, the guys that are coming back," Ventura said. "You don't want the new guys to feel like they're a part of that, but I think it's good for guys to come back with a bad taste."

It was Danks, who has the longest White Sox tenure of any current player, presenting an interesting theory concerning the season and expectations for the team.

"I was telling someone [recently] it seems like the years we are expected to be good, we aren't and vice versa," Danks said. "But I'm excited. I don't know how people couldn't be excited.

"Really, we have to go out there and play baseball. People start getting excited as the summer goes on if we are winning ballgames."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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