White Sox

White Sox announce Carlos Rodon is part of rotation

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White Sox announce Carlos Rodon is part of rotation

MILWAUKEE — A maintenance plan remains in place, but Carlos Rodon is officially part of the White Sox starting rotation.

While Rodon won’t make each of the 27 turns left in the rotation, general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday that the time is now to begin transitioning the team’s top prospect from the bullpen into the rotation.

After he made a successful first start and won on Saturday, Rodon’s next turn comes Friday in Oakland. But much like they monitored Chris Sale’s workload in 2012, the White Sox intend to adjust how they use Rodon in the hope of preservation in both the long and short term.

“We are going to remain flexible and may have to make some alterations,” Hahn said. “There will be periods of breaks for him in this process.

“There will be times when he is skipped, there will be times when he has more than the regular four or five days off. But the process of transitioning him into a starter will begin Friday in Oakland.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: A statistical look at the White Sox slow start]

Hahn previously has discussed the move from Triple-A Charlotte to the White Sox as the final step in Rodon’s development. The White Sox know he has the tools, they just need the process refined. Manager Robin Ventura believes the move from reliever to starter should help, particularly because Rodon will have to use the changeup more often.

“The best part of it is he gets to use everything,” Ventura said. “When he goes in there as a reliever, he’s just trying to get in and out as fast as he can. Now with that start that he had, you’re able to use maybe his changeup a little more and have a little more variety than just fastball-slider. And I think command-wise he’s going to be better with that.”

Rodon only threw his changeup twice in a 108-pitch effort over six innings against the Cincinnati Reds. But that was more a function of helping Rodon, the third overall pick in last June’s draft, get through his first start and using the pitches with which he’s the most comfortable — the fastball and slider.

“The changeup is on the side,” Rodon said. “We can use it too. I have a feel for it. It’s whatever is put down is what I’m going to throw.”

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He’s also on board with whatever the White Sox ask. Rodon understands this is a process and the White Sox have his best interest in mind.

Hahn won’t say if the White Sox have a specific innings limit for Rodon. After all, Sale went from 71 innings in 2011 to 192 in 2012. But the thought is the White Sox would like to keep Rodon around 150-160 innings, and he already has 22 1/3 on the books.

“First full season in pro ball, you have to manage innings,” Rodon said. “I’m kind of not used to that kind of workload. Most I’ve thrown is 130 or 150 innings. It gets up to 190 or 200 pretty easily.

“Just go along with what they put in front of me and take it day by day. ... We’ll manage to it.”

A plan is mapped out, but the White Sox are ready to adjust as needed. As they did with Sale, the White Sox will rely heavily on communication from Rodon. While nothing is set in stone on how he’ll be used, Rodon made it clear on Saturday he can impact the club.

“As we said from the start when we drafted him, we viewed him as a long-term member of the rotation and at some point we though he would join it, we just didn’t know exactly when,” Hahn said. “Based upon, obviously that last outing was strong, as well as some of the stuff we wanted to work on in a sideline, which started today with Don (Cooper), we felt now was the right time to start that process.”

White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo sidelined with elbow injuries

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USA TODAY

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?

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AP

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.”