White Sox

Carlos Rodon rocked as White Sox lose to Angels

Carlos Rodon rocked as White Sox lose to Angels

Carlos Rodon wasn’t around long enough on Monday night to watch the White Sox offense yet again struggle.

The youngster turned in the shortest outing by a White Sox starting pitcher since August 2003 as he recorded only one out before the Los Angeles Angels knocked him out of the game. Rodon allowed five first-inning runs and Hector Santiago cruised against his former team in a 7-0 blowout of the White Sox in front of 14,706 at U.S. Cellular Field. Santiago tied a career-high with 10 strikeouts and combined with two relievers on a three-hit shutout to send the White Sox to their third straight loss.

“Carlos didn't have it tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “They did a good job putting it in play. He just seemed to be all over the place and he couldn't get through.”

Whereas he had commanded his pitches well in his last 10 starts, Rodon didn’t have any Monday. He fell behind in the count to eight of the nine batters he faced and issued early walks to Albert Pujols and Mike Trout to load the bases with one out.

Fastball, slider, change -- it didn’t matter -- Rodon couldn’t consistently throw a strike with any of them.

“Felt good coming out and it just wasn’t there,” Rodon said. “No command, nothing. Just didn’t make it happen.”

All of the sudden, the White Sox bullpen went on alert.

“You see it unfold, you never want to see it,” reliever Zach Duke said. “But you switch gears real quick and realize we’re going to have to cover a lot and do whatever it takes.”

Rodon hoped he could get through three or four innings. The Angels made sure he didn’t escape the first.

Still scoreless and with the bags loaded, Kole Calhoun began a stretch of five straight one-out singles -- only C.J. Cron didn’t score a run -- that helped Los Angeles bust the game wide open. Andrelton Simmons’ single produced two runs as Jose Abreu cut off Adam Eaton’s throw home and tried to flip the ball to first, only to fling it to the dugout screen, which made it 3-0. Geovany Soto followed with an RBI single, Cron singled and Johnny Giavotella ended Rodon’s night with an RBI single.

Rodon’s ERA rose from 1.38 to 4.73 by the time threw his 41st and final pitch.

Injuries aside, Rodon’s start was the shortest by a White Sox starter since August 28, 2003 when manager Jerry Manuel opted to start Neal Cotts over Mark Buehrle at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s just one of those games,” Eaton said. “Every pitcher has them, from the best, Chris Sale, to other pitchers. (Rodon) learned from it.

“He’s a heck of a competitor. And talking to him about his failures and how he can learn from it and get better as we all do, I think he’ll only be better in the long run for this outing.”

The bullpen isn’t in great shape in the interim.

Jake Petricka ended the 25-minute top of the first inning when he induced a double play off Yunel Escobar’s bat.

At the point of Rodon’s exit, the biggest question became who would record the final 26 outs for the White Sox, who are without a true long reliever on the 25-man roster.

Petricka recorded eight outs with a run allowed on 33 pitches.

Zach Putnam retired the side in order in three straight innings on 34 pitches while Dan Jennings allowed a run in two innings and threw 49 pitches. Duke pitched a scoreless ninth for the White Sox, who are in the midst of a stretch with 19 games in 19 days.

Afterward, the White Sox optioned outfielder J.B. Shuck to Triple-A Charlotte to make room for an additional pitcher, who will be added before Tuesday’s game.

“It would have been nice to go three or four for the guys instead of a third of an inning and get one out,” Rodon said. “Just didn’t happen today.

“Just kind of forget about it. I had nine innings of baseball to think about it. Tomorrow’s a new day and this team has gotta win, we’ve got to get out of this losing streak and get this thing going again.”

Santiago made easy work of his former team, which has become a trend of late.

The left-hander pitched out of a jam in the first as Todd Frazier flew out and Melky Cabrera lined out to third to strand two. That began a stretch where Santiago retired 14 of 15 batters, including seven strikeouts. Santiago struck out two more in the sixth as he worked around an Adam Eaton double and a Frazier walk. He retired the side in order in his seventh and final inning and allowed two hits and three walks.

The White Sox have scored 15 runs in the past seven games and only five in their last four.

“They're going to have to figure this one out,” Ventura said. “It was up and down the lineup.”

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: