(SportsNetwork.com) - Chris Sale makes his 2015 debut on Sunday when the Chicago White Sox play the rubber match of a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.
Sale started the year on the disabled list after he suffered an avulsion fracture in his right foot early in spring training.
"He's the guy I want going out there tomorrow, I don't care if he's faced a hitter or not," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said.
The left-hander is coming off a terrific season that saw him finish third in American League Cy Young voting. He was as dominant as any pitcher in the game a year ago, but he missed time between April 17 and May 22 because of a flexor muscle strain and was only 11-14.
Sale may have only won 12 games for the White Sox, but his 2.17 ERA and 0.97 WHIP were second only to Seattle's Felix Hernandez. He also struck out 208, walked 39 and yielded a mere 129 hits in 174 innings. His 10.76 strikeouts per nine innings ranked second in the majors behind Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw and was third in the AL with a .205 opponent batting average.
As good as Sale has been over the course of his career, the Twins are the only team in the AL Central that he has a winning record against. He has faced them 16 times (8 starts) and is 6-1 against them with a 2.45 ERA in those outings.
Minnesota, meanwhile, will turn to righty Phil Hughes, who was battered around on Opening Day. Hughes absorbed the loss to the Detroit Tigers on Monday, giving up four runs and eight hits over six innings. However, he did strike out six batters and walked just one.
Hughes is 4-4 in 15 games (11 starts) versus the White Sox and has pitched to a 2.98 ERA against them.
Chicago picked up its first win of the season on Saturday, as J.B. Shuck's pinch-hit RBI single during the eighth inning lifted the White Sox to a 5-4 triumph. Conor Gillaspie finished 3-for-4 with an RBI single, Adam LaRoche and Geovany Soto each homered and Avisail Garcia also knocked in a run for the White Sox, who opened the season with four straight losses.
"It's a good win for us," Ventura said. "We came right back and scored some runs."
Starter Jeff Samardzija gave up four runs on eight hits with six strikeouts over seven frames, while Zach Duke (1-0) tossed a scoreless eighth for the win.
Danny Santana supplied two hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Twins, who took the series opener 6-0 on Friday. Starter Mike Pelfrey lasted five innings, giving up four runs on seven hits.
"They were pretty aggressive," Pelfrey said of the White Sox. "My fastball command was a little erratic and when I made mistakes, they made me pay for it."
Minnesota won 10 of its 19 matchups with the White Sox in 2014.