White Sox

White Sox figuring out plan for Carlos Rodon's next appearance

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White Sox figuring out plan for Carlos Rodon's next appearance

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has referred to Carlos Rodon’s innings as a “scarce resource,” so his strong starting debut doesn’t guarantee him another turn in the club’s rotation.

Rodon allowed two runs over six innings in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Cincinnati, throwing 108 pitches with eight strikeouts and four walks. Manager Robin Ventura said Sunday Rodon’s next appearance won’t come until the White Sox three-game series in Oakland next weekend, meaning he’s ruled out to pitch May 11-13 against Milwaukee.

Ventura wouldn’t say whether Rodon will pitch as a starter or reliever next, though he only earned his start Saturday because of brawl-related suspensions to Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale. But even if Rodon is one of the team’s five best starters, the larger issue surrounds bringing the former first-round pick along slowly in the majors. 

“He is a big strong kid, that stuff is obvious,” Ventura said. “You still have to protect against the urge of just running him up there for 200 something innings. That’s something to think about. It’s significant enough that you have to have that cross your mind.”

[MORE: Carlos Rodon has several keepsakes from first victory]

Rodon’s fastball topped out at 99 miles per hour Saturday and his slider generated six swings and misses. After walking the first two batters he faced, Rodon settled down and looked like the guy the White Sox viewed as worthy of the largest signing bonus ($6.582 million) in franchise history.

Catcher Geovany Soto said that’ll be the key for Rodon, either as a starter or reliever — if the 22-year-old stays within himself and doesn’t try to do too much, he’ll be fine.

“He was definitely following me out there,” Soto said. “But I knew that the task in hand. For a young guy like that and the stuff that he has, it wasn’t that hard work. This guy has some tools, some velocity, slider is really sharp so this guy is going to be a really impressive.”

Rodon said throwing to Soto, an 11-year veteran, was important in calming him down (he similarly trusts Tyler Flowers, who has a strong reputation for handling pitchers). One thing Soto and the White Sox don’t have to worry about, though, is Rodon over-thinking things early in his career.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

 

Part of the transition from Triple-A to the majors is learning how to use all the extra information available like detailed scouting reports or video. Rodon, though, said he’s not too concerned with that kind of information and usually leaves the in-depth studying to his catchers.

“I’m not a guy that’s much on scouting reports,” Rodon said. “I’ll just let the catcher, Geo or Flow handle that because they understand it, they know what to put down and I’m usually going with whatever they call. I’m always comfortable. 

“I try to keep away from that kind of thinking, who’s going to do what, what are his tendencies, that’s something I don’t worry about. (Soto) is a guy I have a lot of trust in, (he’s) been here before so he knows what to call.”

Since joining the big league club for most of spring training, Rodon has been roundly praised by coaches and teammates for keeping his head down and listening more than talking. His demeanor, despite all the hype surrounding him, has only cemented the White Sox belief that he’ll be a fixture in their starting rotation at some point. 

Rodon’s immediate future, though, could take him back to the bullpen. But relief work was the plan when he was promoted from Triple-A April 20, and it won’t change his long-term outlook with the organization. 

“The sky’s the limit for him,” Soto said. “He’s needs to keep working hard, he needs to pay attention and do everything he needs to do. But talent-wise, he’s got everything."

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.