White Sox

Carlos Rodon struggles as Yankees blast White Sox

Carlos Rodon struggles as Yankees blast White Sox

Carlos Rodon flipped his glove into the stands behind the third base dugout after the final frustrating inning of his last start before the All-Star break. 

The 23-year-old left-hander allowed six runs (five earned) over five innings as the White Sox lost, 9-0, to the New York Yankees Tuesday night in front of 20,773 at U.S. Cellular Field. Rodon was touched up for 12 hits — plenty of which were line drives — and allowed two home runs with three strikeouts and two walks. 

As for the glove: “Just give it to a fan, better than throwing it away,” Rodon said, with a bit of a chuckle. 

After striking out Chase Headley with the bases loaded to end the top of the first, things began to unravel for the 2014 No. 3 overall pick. Carlos Beltran served an RBI single to right, then Tim Anderson’s first major league error allowed a second run to score in the second inning. 

Headley blasted a two-run home run in the top of the third, and Mark Teixeira ripped a run-scoring double down the third base line in the fourth. Austin Romine hammered a 397-foot solo home run out to left in the fifth to account for New York’s final run against Rodon. 

“It comes down to command,” manager Robin Ventura said. “This is the wrong lineup to be erratic and get behind. It just seemed like every hitter was 2-0, 2-1 and you just can't do it. They have too many good hitters and too many veteran hitters that take advantage of that. 

“He's got to be better at being able to get ahead, get ahead early. His slider's not going to be effective if you're always behind and trying to get the swing and miss stuff.”

Rodon fell behind 15 of the 29 batters he faced, with those at-bats resulting in five hits (three doubles, a home run and an RBI single) and two walks. He was also victimized when the Yankees swung at the first pitch, giving up as many hits (two) as he generated swinging strikes. 

Rodon threw his slider 28 percent of the time, exactly in line with his season average, but only generated three swings and misses on it, according to BrooksBaseball.net. 

“His stuff was a little bit flat today as far as his slider,” catcher Alex Avila, who left the game in the sixth with a strained right hamstring and will be placed on the disabled list Wednesday, said. “Up in the zone quite a bit with his slider and his fastball today and I think today was kind of one of those days where his stuff was just a little bit flat and not as explosive as it has been over these past few starts.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The White Sox couldn’t get anything going against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka after squandering an opportunity in the second inning. After Brett Lawrie hit a one-out single, Alex Avila — who left the game in the sixth inning with a right hamstring strain — banged a double off the left field wall to put runners on second and third with one out. But Avisail Garcia struck out, and J.B. Shuck’s flyout to left erased any chance of getting on the board. 

Tanaka scattered six hits and one walk with five strikeouts in his 7 2/3 innings. 

The Yankees added two extra runs in the eighth off right-hander Michael Ynoa when Rob Refsnyder drilled a double to center to score Headily, which Aaron Hicks followed with an RBI double of his own. Mark Teixeira’s sacrifice fly in the ninth brought in the Yankees’ final run of the evening. 

Entering Tuesday, Rodon had a 3.24 ERA with 42 strikeouts, 13 walks and five home runs allowed in his previous seven starts — a stretch which came after his ERA ballooned to a season-high 4.99. But after allowing four tallies in five innings June 30 against Minnesota and then five earned run against New York, Rodon will enter the All-Star break with a 4.50 ERA and a 4.45 FIP. 

“It wasn’t good, let’s put it that way,” Rodon said. “ … They were hitting the ball well. They came out swinging today. Hats off to them. Some experienced guys on that team and they put it to me.”

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

0219_alec_hansen.jpg
AP

Strikeout machine Alec Hansen wants to be the best ... OK, one of the best

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On a day when Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada took live batting practice for the first time this spring, off in the distance was a lanky White Sox prospect standing in the outfield grass.

But Alec Hansen was doing more than shagging flies. He was watching both hitters very closely.

“I was looking to see how much pop they had,” Hansen said of Abreu and Moncada. “I kind of look at that to see the difference in power between minor league ball and the major leagues. It’s nice to see it’s not a huge difference. That makes me feel a bit more comfortable.”

At 6-foot-8 — actually 6-foot-8-and-a-half, according to his spring training physical — Hansen is a big man with big plans for his baseball career. He might be quiet on the outside, but he has booming expectations for himself on the inside.

“I want to be the best,” Hansen said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

The best? The very best?

That’s what Hansen aspires to become, though later in our conversation, he did dial back a notch, settling for becoming “one of the best.”

Either is fine with manager Ricky Renteria, who is overseeing these uber-confident White Sox prospects and accepts their lofty expectations.

“I think their mindset is where it’s supposed to be,” Renteria said. “None of these kids are concerned or consumed with the possibility of failure. Much more they’re consuming themselves with the understanding that they might hit some stumbling blocks, but they’re going to have a way to avoid overcoming them and push forward and be the best that they can be.”

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, Hansen led the minor leagues with 191 strikeouts. He’s proud of that accomplishment but admitted something: He’s not that impressed because he didn’t do it where it really matters — in the major leagues.

When you watch Hansen pitch, it’s easy to see that the talent is there. His coaches and teammates rave about his ability. With his enormous size and power arm, he is loaded with strengths.  

Though there is one weakness that Hansen acknowledges he needs to work on.

“Sometimes I have a tendency to think too much and worry. I think worrying is the worst thing that I do just because I want to be perfect,” Hansen said. “I think everyone wants to be perfect, some more than others, and I worry about things getting in the way of achieving perfection.”

To Hansen, that doesn’t mean throwing a perfect game. He actually takes it one step further.

He wants to strikeout every single hitter he faces.

“I love striking people out,” Hansen said. “Not having to rely on anyone else and just getting the job done myself and knowing that the hitter can’t get a hit off me. That’s a great feeling. That they can’t put it in play. Like a line drive out. That’s terrible.”

At some point, Hansen will have to lower these impossible expectations for himself. This is an imperfect game. There’s no place for nine-inning, 27-strikeout performances. Players end up in the Hall of Fame because they learn how to succeed with failure.

In the meantime, Hansen is here in big league camp watching and learning anything and everything.

“I’m a good observer. I listen. I don’t really talk too much. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I like to sit back and observe and see how these guys go about their business. Just trying to be at their level, hopefully one day surpass them.”

Surpass?

“It’s kind of hard to surpass some of these guys. I mean, they’re at the tip-top, like the pinnacle of the sport,” Hansen said. “I guess you could say, to get on that level and then be one of the best in the league.”

He might be on his way.

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

0218-dylan-covey.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox free up spot on 40-man roster by outrighting Dylan Covey

The White Sox freed up a spot on their 40-man roster Sunday, outrighting pitcher Dylan Covey to Triple-A Charlotte.

Covey pitched in 18 games last season, making 12 starts for the South Siders. Things did not go well, with Covey turning in an 0-7 record and a 7.71 ERA in 70 innings.

While there was an outside chance that Covey could have provided at least some starting-pitching depth heading into the 2018 season, the team's recent additions of Miguel Gonzalez and Hector Santiago — not to mention Covey's results from last season — wiped out that idea.

At the moment, the White Sox starting rotation figures to look like this by Opening Day: James Shields, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer, with Santiago seeming like a good option to provide depth as the long man in the bullpen.