White Sox

Carlos Rodon continues to excel as he eclipses personal innings mark


Carlos Rodon continues to excel as he eclipses personal innings mark

MINNEAPOLIS — Carlos Rodon has never pitched more innings in a season, yet he shows no signs of slowing down.

Though he was tagged with the loss on Wednesday night, the White Sox rookie continued an outstanding stretch with six more sharp innings in a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins. Rodon, who eclipsed his personal mark for innings in a season with a scoreless first inning, allowed two earned runs and five hits as he pitched five more frames.

“He’s been great,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Mentally, tough competitive kid. When he know he has the right stuff to go out there and give you a chance to win. His progression of maturity and getting through with experience, this is good stuff for him.”

When they promoted him in April, the White Sox believed that Rodon’s final step in his development would be pitching at the big league level. His stuff was too good for the minors, and they knew it would benefit him most to face big league hitters.

Not only did Rodon need to see how much the addition of a solid changeup would help, he also needed to know how important it is to get ahead of hitters.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Tyler Saladino could be White Sox SS until Tim Anderson is ready]

He struggled early on, walking 37 batters in 60 innings over his first 11 starts. Rodon has since grasped both concepts, and it has made him a much more effective pitcher at a time when he should be showing the signs of a long rookie season.

Over his last five starts, Rodon — who has thrown a combined 128 2/3 innings — has a 1.85 ERA.

“Now he’s actually pitching,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “There’s a game plan we’re able to execute now. There are situations where we can throw secondary pitches in there for strikes. It’s even turned into where we’re getting guys to strike out on changeups, which is a pitch we couldn’t even throw in the vicinity in spring. So I think it started there and it’s been an impressive job just the growth he’s shown since his time up here, and the sky’s the limit for him. He’s got a great arsenal. If he can just continue to improve the command, he’s going to be pretty good for us.”

Rodon threw 14 changeups on Wednesday night. He didn’t rate the pitch as being good on Wednesday and only six went for strikes. But the fact he has enough confidence to throw gives him an extra element as he can change speeds and not allow hitters to sit on his fastball or his slider.

In his previous start, Rodon threw strikes on seven of eight changeups.

[MORE WHITE SOX: Frankie Montas ready to pitch from White Sox bullpen if needed]

How far has it come along?

“A lot,” Rodon said. “Last start, it was real good. I tried to use it this start, and it wasn’t as good as it could have been. Just wish it was better. It would have helped a lot.”

Rodon would like to be discussing wins right now and not development.

He would prefer to be helping the White Sox to their first postseason appearance since 2008. But he also realizes that keeping the club within striking distance is his real job, and he’s done that over the last month.

As for the rest of the way, Rodon wants to keep his goals simple: “Just get better, more consistent and just enjoy it. Just have fun.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries


White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

PHOENIX, Ariz. — One of the White Sox prized prospects will be on the shelf for a little while.

Outfielder Micker Adolfo has a sprained UCL in his right elbow and a strained flexor tendon that could require surgery. He could avoid surgery, though he could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

Though he hasn’t received the same high rankings and media attention as fellow outfield prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, Adolfo is considered a part of the White Sox promising future. He’s said to have the best outfield arm in the White Sox system.

Adolfo had a breakout season in 2017, slashing .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers and 68 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Kannapolis.

Adolfo, along with Jimenez and Robert, has been generating buzz at White Sox camp in Glendale, with a crowd forming whenever the trio takes batting practice. Earlier this week, the three described their conversation dreaming about playing together in the same outfield for a contending White Sox team in the future.

As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?


As Cactus League play begins, how many spots are actually up for grabs on the White Sox roster?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some teams have it easy, with their 25-man rosters seemingly locked into place before spring training games even start.

The White Sox actually have a lot more locked-down spots than you might think for a rebuilding team, but this spring remains pretty important for a few guys.

The starting rotation figures to be set, with James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer the starting five. Carlos Rodon, of course, owns one of those spots once he returns from injury. But the date of that return remains a mystery.

From this observer’s viewpoint, eight of the everyday nine position players seem to be figured out, too: Welington Castillo behind the plate, Jose Abreu at first base, Yoan Moncada at second base, Tim Anderson at shortstop, Yolmer Sanchez at third base, Nicky Delmonico in left field, Avisail Garcia in right field and Matt Davidson as the designated hitter. More on the omission of a starting center fielder in a bit.

Omar Narvaez would be a logical pick to back up Castillo at catcher, and Tyler Saladino is really the lone reserve infielder with big league experience, not to mention he’s a versatile player that can play anywhere on the infield.

Leury Garcia also figures to be a lock for this 25-man roster. But will he be the everyday center fielder, as he was for a spell last season? He played 51 games in center in 2017 but battled injuries throughout the year. I think Leury Garcia will end up the starting center fielder when the season begins because of his bat. His .270/.316/.423 slash line isn’t going to make anyone do cartwheels, but it’s better than the offensive struggles of Adam Engel, who started 91 games in center in 2017 and slashed .166/.235/.282. Engel would still be a solid inclusion on the bench because of his superb defense, but to create that big a hole in the everyday lineup is tough.

How could that position-player group change? Keep your eyes in center field, where there are a couple other guys who could force their way into a roster spot this spring: Charlie Tilson and Ryan Cordell. Tilson has had a tremendous amount of trouble staying on the field since coming over to the White Sox in a 2016 deadline deal, but that hasn’t dampened the White Sox hopes for him. And Cordell got name-dropped by general manager Rick Hahn during SoxFest, when the GM said he’s received multiple calls about Cordell since acquiring him last summer. Cordell put up good numbers at the Triple-A level prior to a significant injury last year.

But the main battles figure to be in the bullpen. At times this winter, as the White Sox kept adding players to that relief corps mix, that the whole thing seemed wide open. But when you think about it, maybe there are only one or two open spots.

You’d have to think these guys are pretty safe bets to make the team: Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante, Nate Jones, Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan. Though Hector Santiago was just recently acquired on a minor league deal, he’s really the only long man of the group, and he could sub in if there’s an injury to a starting pitcher. That leaves two spots between the group of Aaron Bummer, Danny Farquhar, Jace Fry, Jose Ruiz and Thyago Vieira — not to mention guys signed to minor league deals like Xavier Cedeno, Jeanmar Gomez and Bruce Rondon.

Bummer had a 4.50 ERA in 30 big league games last year. Farquhar had a 4.40 ERA in 15 games. Vieira has gotten attention as a flame-thrower, but he’s got just one big league game under his belt, something that might or might not matter to the rebuilding White Sox. Guys like Gomez, who has 40 career saves including 37 just two years ago, and Rondon, who had multiple shots at the Detroit Tigers’ closing job in the past, could vault themselves into the mix as potential midseason trade candidates.

Then there's the question of which of those guys will be Rick Renteria's closer. Minaya had closing duties after most of the bullpen was traded away last summer. He picked up nine saves and posted a 4.11 ERA in his final 17 appearances of the campaign. Look to Soria, though, a veteran with plenty of closing experience from his days with the Kansas City Royals. If he's given the opportunity to close and succeeds, he could fetch an intriguing return package in a potential deadline deal.

But now it's game time in Arizona.

“The fun part of playing the game of baseball is playing the game of baseball," Renteria said earlier this week. "We prepare. I think they all enjoy what they’re doing in terms of their preparation. They take it seriously, they focus. But ultimately like everything that we do in life, I guess it’s a test. And the games are a test for us on a daily basis. And how we are able to evaluate them and take advantage of the opportunities that we have to see them in a real game situation is certainly helpful for us.”