Zack Collins’ first Opening Day start Thursday night in Anaheim will be remembered forever by the team’s top pick in the 2016 Draft. That memory only will be enhanced by his dad, Pat, getting a tattoo to commemorate the evening.
“My dad said he's going to get a tattoo of today's lineup, so I guess it's pretty meaningful for him and, obviously, it's extremely meaningful for me,” said Collins during a Thursday night Zoom. “This is just a rumor I heard that he's doing that.
“He already has a huge tattoo on his arm of me catching so it's pretty cool. He got that when I got called up in '19 and now I guess my first Opening Day start.”
Collins wasn’t sure as to whether his dad was getting just the White Sox lineup or the whole lineup card as part of the tattoo. The 26-year-old was sure he belonged on the roster, telling MLB.com a few weeks before the decision he was “100 percent” certain and it would be a mistake not to take him. He proved that assertion true during Spring Training.
Manager Tony La Russa used his left-handed bat at designated hitter against Dylan Bundy on Thursday and plans to put Collins behind the plate Saturday with Lance Lynn pitching.
“A huge honor, yeah,” said Collins of his Game 1 start. “Yasmani [Grandal] told me it took him six years to be in the Opening Day lineup, so obviously this is my second Opening Day roster counting last year. To be in the lineup tonight is definitely exciting. Go out there and get a win.”
“The significance is it's an earned honor,” La Russa said. “That's why you create competition. Zack has not only caught the ball well, but he's been a threat every game with the bat. We're trying to win. He was the best option.”
Anderson notices a change
Thursday’s contest marked a fifth straight Opening Day start for shortstop Tim Anderson -- and the 2019 American League batting champion notices a distinct difference from his early days to the present.
“I’m way more confident and I’m way more myself than I felt [in] the other ones, at least the first two or three,” Anderson said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but now I know.
“I know what type of player I am. No matter who is on the mound, I know what I can do in the box. Just a different level of confidence, and that allows me to continue to be myself and have fun with it.”
Final roster set
The White Sox officially set their Opening Day roster a few hours prior to their Thursday contest against the Angels.
They placed outfielder Adam Engel on the 10-day injured list with a strained right hamstring (retroactive to March 29). They also placed left-handed reliever Jace Fry on the 10-day injured list as he recovers from a microdiscectomy (retroactive to March 29), and they placed outfielder Eloy Jiménez on the 60-day injured list to recover from surgery to repair a torn left pectoral tendon (retroactive to March 29).
Losing Jiménez is a major gut-punch to the White Sox offense, discussed frequently since the left fielder suffered the injury while chasing a Sean Murphy home run. But Anderson reinforced the next man up point of view.
“We just have to keep going at this point. Don’t dwell on what we are missing,” Anderson said. “We just have to continue with what we got. We miss him, but hopefully we will get him back even towards the end.
“He’s going to be the freshest bat, so he has to be ready. I know he will be. But we can’t dwell on that too much. We know what the ultimate goal is, so we have to keep pushing toward that.”
Andrew Vaughn, the team’s top prospect per MLB Pipeline, and veteran outfielder Billy Hamilton had their contracts purchased from the Schaumburg training facility, with Vaughn wearing jersey No. 25. Left-handed pitcher Nik Turley was outrighted to the Schaumburg training facility.
Third to first
• Left-handed pitcher Bernardo Flores Jr. was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals. Flores had a 9.00 ERA over two big league games pitched last season.
• The White Sox taxi squad features outfielder Luis González, infielder Danny Mendick, infielder Matt Reynolds, and right-handed pitchers Zack Burdi and Alex McRae. Neither Reynolds nor McRae or on the White Sox 40-man roster.
They said it
• “I don't care how great the expert is, you're just guessing. We're all guessing. I think you can think you have a chance to finish over .500 or that you have a chance to contend. And then you've got to make it happen. … I feel exactly like I have. I’m very anxious, and I can’t wait to get started.” -- La Russa, on if this Opening Day feels any different from his previous 33, with his last one in 2011 with the Cardinals and his last one with the White Sox coming in 1986
• “Tony called me in the office. Honestly, I was a little nervous, but he broke the news to me and obviously it was really good news.” -- Collins, on finding out he made the Opening Day roster