We all have bad dreams. We don't necessarily all have dreams about shoulder surgery, though.
That's what made Carlos Rodon's nightmares eerily prophetic.
The White Sox starting pitcher had shoulder surgery at the end of last season, an injury-plagued campaign that saw him make his first start on June 28 and log only 69.1 innings before being shut down. Recovering from that surgery, he has no idea when he'll debut in 2018, but the possibility exists he could again miss months' worth of action.
In other words, a nightmare come to life for the 25-year-old lefty.
"You kind of have nightmares about it," Rodon told NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien in a 1-on-1 interview this past weekend at SoxFest. "I remember a couple years (ago) — it happened every once in a while — I had a nightmare that I had surgery or something. You wake up and you're like, 'Oh!' You know how vivid, sometimes, your dreams are. And you're looking at your arm, and I'm like, 'Oh, I'm fine.'
"I never thought I'd see the day that I'd have surgery, not trying to be dramatic. Luckily it wasn't anything major. It wasn't as a big of a deal as my dreams made it, I guess."
Rodon's health has become one of the bigger question marks of the White Sox rebuild. Taken with the third pick in the 2014 draft — before the announcement of the rebuilding efforts after the 2016 season — the South Siders have long envisioned the North Carolina State product as an ace of the future. Those hopes are nowhere close to dashed, of course. When Rodon was able to stay on the mound last season, he showed flashes of brilliance. In his final eight starts, he turned in a 3.49 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 49 innings. That stretch included a pair of 11-strikeout outings against the Cubs and the Boston Red Sox.
But with the potential of missing significant time in two consecutive seasons and the massive influx of pitching talent into the organization that makes the rotation of the future a crowded one, Rodon's future perhaps isn't as locked-in as it once appeared.
How he recovers from surgery, though, will go a long way toward determining what that future looks like.
It's why sitting out a bit in 2018 makes a whole lot of sense. Why rush back to a White Sox team not expected to compete for a championship this season when the future looks so promising?
"Trust me, I would love to be like, 'Yeah, I'm totally going to be ready for Opening Day,'" Rodon said. "We're going to take it pretty slow, I'd assume, because the big picture of this team is next year and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that and the year after that. And if I want to be there, err on the side of caution.
"Opening Day's probably not the best idea. I'm not saying it's out of the question, but it's probably not the best idea for a guy that's coming off of surgery, pitching in 35-, 40-degree weather. It's not the best thing for your arm. You don't want to take your arm for granted, so putting that kind of stress on it's not always the best idea. But we'll see. You never know. You never know what could happen or what's going to happen."
Rodon got the news last week that he's cleared to begin a throwing program, an important step in getting back to the big league mound. As for when that is, things remain a mystery. But while he's still waiting to learn when he'll be back, he's already learned a lot through this process.
"I think I have a better appreciation for my shoulder, that's for sure."
Here's hoping no more of Rodon's nightmares come true.