White Sox

White Sox rookie Carlos Rodon ready for next chance

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White Sox rookie Carlos Rodon ready for next chance

His debut may not have gone as he hoped but after a good night’s sleep, Carlos Rodon is ready for the next opportunity.

The left-hander - the No. 8 overall prospect according to Baseball Prospectus - allowed two earned runs and three hits with three walks in 2 1/3 innings. He struck out one.

Freshly shaven, Rodon said Wednesday morning he only remembers some of what happened in his major league debut Tuesday night - “It went by so quick,” he said.

One of the few details Rodon recalls about the bullpen session prior to his outing is that the slider was non-existent. Each one he threw resembled his putaway slider, which is normally reserved for when he’s ahead in the count and is hard to throw for a strike. The command issues carried over to the game as Rodon threw 29 strikes and 31 balls.

[RELATED - White Sox Carlos Rodon struggles in major league debut]

“At first I felt a little all over the place,” Rodon said. “Near the end as I was actually about to go in I threw a good slider and I threw actually a couple of good changeups. I actually probably felt most comfortable with my changeup, but I just didn’t (throw it). I throw it because it helps you mechanically and that’s when I was struggling a little everywhere. So they were good and the last fastball I threw was right down the middle.

“You just want to get it over, throw it over the plate. It’s simple, right? But easier said than done.”

Pregame instructor/bullpen catcher Adam Ricks caught Rodon as he warmed up. A former Sox minor leaguer from 2004-11, Ricks noticed Rodon didn’t have his best command. Ricks caught Rodon several times in spring training and once during SoxFest in January.

“I’m sure he was geeked up and excited,” Ricks said.

So were White Sox fans seated next to the team’s left-field bullpen. Rodon didn’t pay any attention to his surroundings, but Ricks couldn’t help but notice the unusually extra attention being paid to the pitcher.

“The people who were there were pretty into it,” Ricks said. “They were cheering for him. It was almost like they were ready. It was kind of cool. It wasn’t your typical bullpen guy warming up.”

If he heard any of the cheers, Rodon doesn’t remember. Normally a starting pitcher, Rodon is still trying to get the hang of entering in the middle of a game. After only one game, Rodon feels pretty good about the process.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

“Figuring out the routine for the first time, which wasn’t bad,” Rodon said. “I kind of had that down. Figuring out how much I needed to throw to get ready to go in the game and from there a long run.”

Rodon and the White Sox are hopeful Tuesday’s performance was just a minor footnote in a long career. He’s ready for Round 2 and shaved his mustache down to “change the juju up,” Rodon said. Not that he didn’t know it before, but Rodon also came away with a big league lesson: everything isn’t always going to be perfect. He threw the slider, his bread and butter, only 11 times in 60 pitches. Three went for strikes.

“It’s going to be like that sometimes,” Rodon said. "Come out, there’s not going to be a slider. Sometimes I won’t have a fastball and I’ll have just a slider. You’ve got to learn how to make that adjustment.”

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.