White Sox

White Sox Carlos Rodon doesn't want Cubs' Kris Bryant hype

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White Sox Carlos Rodon doesn't want Cubs' Kris Bryant hype

He’s the second top-rated prospect to be promoted to Chicago in four days but Carlos Rodon is glad the hype surrounding him isn’t as great as Kris Bryant’s.

The two share the same agent, Scott Boras, and played together for USA Baseball in 2012.

Rodon -- who is expected to start in the bullpen after the White Sox called him up from Triple-A Charlotte on Monday -- even admitted he really likes the Bryant Red Bull commercial featuring Mike Ditka and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan. But the left-hander, the third overall pick of the 2014 draft, doesn’t mind if his debut doesn’t create the same stir as when Bryant made his first appearance for the Cubs on Friday at Wrigley Field.

“Nah, I want to go under the radar,” Rodon said.

There’s no question why Bryant, drafted in 2013, would receive more hype, having conquered the minor leagues with 43 home runs over a full season in 2014. Though the White Sox are confident Rodon can succeed in the majors, general manager Rick Hahn sees this promotion as the next step in the left-hander’s development.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The move to the major league bullpen not only allows Rodon to ease into a big league career, it also allows the White Sox to manage his workload and keep his innings down. The White Sox took a similar approach with Mark Buehrle in 2000 and again with Chris Sale in 2010 and 2011.

“We're going to let him evolve,” Hahn said. “There's no real restrictions on him in terms of his usage out of the ‘pen at this time. It is a transition, so you're not going to see back-to-backs initially, you're not going to see an inordinate workload in a given week initially. We're going to ease him into this. Again, his development's not done. This is the next step and the most visible step and ideally, the finishing step in his development.”

Rodon is stepping into unfamiliar yet “doable” territory, he said. White Sox manager Robin Ventura suggested Rodon could be used for a lengthier appearance after he made two starts at Charlotte or he could face one left-handed hitter. But Ventura wants to ease Rodon into his new role.

“He’s a nice addition,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “There’s a couple of different ways you can use him. …

“Right now, probably looking at the middle of the game if a spot comes up that looks conducive for him to come in.”

[MORE: Rodon's high school coach sees White Sox getting great pitcher, person]

Rodon knows he could survive in a major league bullpen with just his slider and fastball. But he doesn’t have any plans to slow down his use of the changeup, a pitch both he and the White Sox have discussed he needs to further develop in order to be successful.

Rodon threw the changeup 20 times in his final spring training start and is confident he can get outs with the pitch.

“Oh, it's still there,” Rodon said. “It's a good pitch.”

Rodon believes he belongs in the majors, “You have to be that way, have to be confident,” he said.

Perhaps that’s why he believes he can handle pitching out of the bullpen even though he’s pitched almost exclusively as a starter. Rodon appeared out the bullpen three times in 11 minor league games.

“Yeah, it's a little different,” Rodon said. “You come out, you throw your best fastballs and you don't really try to pace yourself.

“I kinda have an idea what it's like. I had one outing out of the bullpen, I forgot who was it against. It was at home. It was a different routine, but it's doable.”

Just don’t look for him to be featured in any Red Bull spots like his crosstown counterpart Bryant -- not yet, anyway.

“But that’s a cool commercial,” he said.

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.”