White Sox

Only certainty is that there is no certainty for White Sox after Carlos Rodon's surgery

Only certainty is that there is no certainty for White Sox after Carlos Rodon's surgery

Next season will begin exactly the way the 2017 campaign did, with the White Sox unsure of what they’ll receive from Carlos Rodon or when.

Instead of Rodon capping a season in which he reached the goals of 200 innings and 33 starts, it was announced Thursday that the pitcher is in recovery after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Though general manager Rick Hahn said doctors found significant bursitis of the shoulder, the White Sox are hopeful Rodon can make a full recovery as both the labrum and biceps “were viewed as normal.” Hahn said the general timeframe for Rodon’s recovery is anywhere from six to eight months. The procedure comes at the end of a season in which Rodon was limited to 12 starts, sidelined from March until nearly July with bursitis in his biceps.

“The timing as to his return to a major league mound is still difficult to pinpoint at this point and will be dependent on how his rehab goes,” Hahn said. “Six months puts us at roughly Opening Day and eight months puts us roughly at June 1. We will not know more of the specifics of that timing until Carlos completes his rehab and begins throwing in spring training. There won’t be any updates on timing there until we get to Glendale next spring.”

There are significant differences between the latest injury and the one that knocked Rodon out in the spring.

This time the White Sox and Rodon are more certain of the path ahead and can try to prepare accordingly.

Headed into spring 2017, the White Sox had Rodon on a program designed to help him slowly build up so he could withstand the full season and pitch 200 innings.

But once Rodon’s shoulder issues surfaced in late March, all bets were off. The White Sox didn’t know when the left-hander would return or how he’d rebound after a diagnosis of bursitis of the biceps. Rodon endured a lengthy, frustrating process that he said in May had “taken a lot longer than I imagined.” His rehab was full of ups and downs and wasn’t complete until his June 28 return.

Rodon brought plenty of stuff when he returned, striking out 76 batters in 69.1 innings. He looked every bit like a front-of-the-rotation starter as the White Sox hoped he would.

But signs of regression began to appear — it took him longer to get warm than it should have on several occasions and “you could tell from watching him it wasn’t quite right,” Hahn said. Then Rodon was scratched from his Sept. 7 start, which led to a second round of MRIs and tests.

“You knew this issue wasn’t going away and it needed to be explored to try to get to the bottom of it,” Hahn said. “Certainly, we were cautiously optimistic that it would be bursitis-based, but we didn’t really know until they went in there and took a look (Wednesday).”

With how tricky shoulder surgery can be, the White Sox are cautiously optimistic about Rodon’s return.

“It was as good as we could hope and he is projected to make a full recovery,” Hahn said.

It’s a recovery for which the White Sox can better plan. It would seem likely the White Sox rotation will feature Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, James Shields and potentially Carson Fulmer. The team can also add depth via free agency in order to avoid rushing some of their top pitching prospects and fill gaps while Rodon recovers.

Though Rodon has vowed he’ll pitch again in 2018, an extra arm or two would give the White Sox the flexibility they’ll almost certainly need to combat an uncertain situation.

“If everything goes perfectly, and you’re dealing with more of the softer side of this, there isn’t a set, you know, at three months, he’s supposed to be doing this, at four months, he’ll be able to do that,” Hahn said. “It’s going to be more about how the body heals and then ultimately how we’re able to build up arm strength. Conceivably, the front end of that is around Opening Day. The back end is about June 1. Again, we’re just not going to know just where he’s able to fall on that until he gets back to throwing come next spring.”

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

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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.

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.