Though he’s seemingly become the forgotten man, Carlos Rodon still has much a chance as anyone to be a part — a big part — of the White Sox rotation of the future.
Rebuild-loving White Sox fans are always hungry for the next batch of box scores from the minor leagues, following guys like Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning from one start to the next like they’re big leaguers and not pitching, in two of those four cases, for a Class A team.
That hunger coupled with Rodon’s status as a player in recovery instead as one on a major league mound makes it easy to forget that the 2014 first-round pick, who’s just 25 years old, should very much be included with all those minor league guys (not to mention Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez) as potential aces of the future for the rebuilding White Sox.
But he’s got to get back to pitching first.
Rodon will soon do that, he informed reporters while making an appearance at Guaranteed Rate Field. Still rehabbing from shoulder surgery that brought his 2017 campaign to an early end, Rodon was back in Chicago to meet with the doctor, and he'll also throw for pitching coach Don Cooper. Rodon provided the update that he’ll soon be pitching in games, starting with extended spring training contests before making a minor league rehab assignment and eventually making his way back to the South Side.
Recently moved to the 60-day disabled list, he’ll be eligible to come off at the end of May, which is around the time the White Sox have discussed him potentially being ready to return.
“Hopefully by the end of this 60-day deal, maybe,” Rodon said when asked when he’ll be back. “You never know what could happen, setbacks and whatnot. Those things can lengthen out the process, but if everything goes well, hopefully by the end of (May). I don’t know. I can’t really put a date on it. I’m hoping, but we’ll see.”
“Timetable’s the same as it’s always been. We expect him to be back sometime roughly in late May, early June,” general manager Rick Hahn said Friday. “I think the earliest he can come back is May 28 because we put him on the 60-day, so it’ll be after that date.”
White Sox fans haven’t seen much of Rodon in the last two seasons of South Side baseball. Last year, his start was delayed until late June because of a spring arm injury. Then came the shoulder surgery last September. Almost a month into this season, Rodon’s combined innings total in 2017 and 2018 stands at just 69.1 in 12 starts last summer.
But he showed some flashes of brilliance in those outings that brought to mind why the White Sox spent the No. 3 pick in the draft on him. He had three games of at least 10 strikeouts, including punching out 11 Cubs hitters in just four innings last July.
This time, he’ll miss roughly the same amount of time in the season before making his debut, give or take a few weeks. But at least he’s got experience to lean on when it comes to dealing with his absence.
“It is tough, not starting the season off with the boys. I miss being here,” Rodon said. “It’s definitely frustrating. No one likes to be injured, for the team and for the fans. You don’t want to be in Arizona when your boys are out here pitching and hitting balls and winning games. Sometimes it’s part of the process, as dumb as that sounds. It really is true. It’s a different kind of feeling this year knowing more so what’s going on.
“I kind of know more of a plan now compared to last year. I kind of was clueless. You never think surgery is a good thing, but in this case it’s not bad at all, considering plan-wise and time-wise, we’re a little more set in stone.”