White Sox

White Sox lose as Royals hit three homers off Carlos Rodon

White Sox lose as Royals hit three homers off Carlos Rodon

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — He has already bounced back from serious adversity once this season. Now Carlos Rodon will look to rebound from a pair of rough starts late in the year.

The White Sox starter yielded three home runs in four-plus innings on Monday afternoon as the Kansas City Royals handed an 8-3 loss to the White Sox in front of 31,502 at Kauffman Stadium. Rodon, who recently won five straight decisions, lost for a second straight start after he allowed six earned runs in a 96-pitch effort. The White Sox, who won Friday’s contest in dramatic fashion, lost their third straight to the Royals and 14th in 19 meetings this season.

Jose Abreu and Carlos Sanchez both homered in the losing effort.

“I’m going to be fresh in these last two starts, just try to finish strong and move on,” Rodon said. “These things happen. I just have to keep on having fun. Sometimes I forget this is a kid’s game and you just have to enjoy it. Sometimes the pressure gets to you, and you take it as a job. It’s not a job, although it is. Kids play this game all over the world. We all started as kids, and we just have to remember this is a kid’s game and have fun with it.”

There were no indications Rodon was in for a difficult day when he retired the side in order in the first inning on only 11 pitches.

He found trouble in the second inning and faced a stressful situation in each frame the rest of the way. He fell behind 2-1 in the second inning when he yielded solo homers to Paulo Orlando and Alcides Escobar on fastballs and had to work around a two-out double to Christian Colon. Rodon managed to strand a runner in scoring position in both the third and fourth innings.

But the stress seemed to catch up to Rodon in the fifth inning, and things got ugly in a hurry. Rodon’s throwing error on Billy Burns’ infield single put him in scoring position. Whit Merrifield then singled to put runners on the corners and stole second base. Eric Hosmer broke a 2-all tie with an RBI single, and Kendrys Morales knocked Rodon from the game with a three-run homer, a 436-foot shot to left center.

Rodon allowed eight hits in four-plus innings and has seen his ERA increase from 3.80 to 4.29 in his last two starts.

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It’s not the first time Rodon has found himself in a difficult spot this season. He was outwardly frustrated as he headed into the All-Star break injured and with a 2-7 record despite having pitched well enough to win in 10 of his first 16 starts.

But Rodon vowed to treat the second half as if he was starting from zero and expected to rebound. Until his last start, Rodon has done just that. From Aug. 6 to Sept. 9, Rodon went 5-0 with a 1.85 ERA in 43 2/3 innings, which brought his record within a game of .500.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura thinks that Rodon’s turnaround can be extremely valuable from a mental standpoint.

“You’re looking at a kid who went through a rough patch, and he’s been able to see his way out of it, see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Ventura said. “You can get buried in this game and not be able to mentally get your way out of it to where you have the confidence to go out there and commit to a pitch and locate it and be able to get people out. He has been able to do that. He’s turned a new leaf to where the belief is there. He’s showing it in his actions. Just the stuff he’s doing during games. I think that’s the important part for him taking it this far is you’re seeing it.”

The White Sox offense put up a decent fight early on but couldn’t keep pace with the Royals.

They pulled ahead 1-0 in the second inning when Todd Frazier singled in Justin Morneau, who doubled in his first at-bat in six games.

Two innings later, Abreu crushed a 3-1 fastball from Yordano Ventura for a game-tying homer to center that went over the third wall just below the massive scoreboard. But Ventura shut the White Sox down from there. Aside from the 431-foot solo homer by Sanchez in the seventh, the White Sox managed little else against Ventura, who went the distance.

“That (earlier) stretch was good,” Rodon said. “These past two games weren’t my finest. I wish I would have been better for this team, and that’s on me.”

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.”