White Sox

Adam LaRoche: 'My pride has been injured a little bit'

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Adam LaRoche: 'My pride has been injured a little bit'

BOSTON — He’d prefer not to be in a position where he required a two-day breather, but Adam LaRoche is on board with the idea.

Locked in one of the worst slumps of his career, LaRoche was out of the lineup for a second straight game on Tuesday by design. Of the belief that two days off could get the veteran far enough away from his struggles, manager Robin Ventura wants LaRoche to work on his approach without having to worry about the results. LaRoche said the timing is right.

“I’m healing,” LaRoche said. “My pride has been injured a little bit.

“I told Robin, ‘I don’t want it, but I know I need it.’ I’ve played long enough to where I know there’s a time when you are just fighting against yourself every day. I think he could sense it and he’s been there, and that’s why I think he said now is the time to take a day or two and kind of relax and try to reset.”

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LaRoche has a .212/.306/.347 slash line with nine home runs and 34 RBIs in 356 plate appearances this season. He is striking out in 30 percent of his plate appearances, about eight more than his career average. But Ventura hopes LaRoche is able to focus on his stats the rest of the way rather than those he accumulated over the season’s four months.

“What we really care about is this point forward,” Ventura said. “A lot of guys want to look at the full year picture, but all that matters is right now going forward. You want to get him in a good spot and swinging it like he can.”

LaRoche is in the first season of a two-year, $25-million deal. His slow campaign hasn’t removed him from the team’s plans — they signed him to play a big role in the offense and intend to get LaRoche back into the lineup. If the White Sox want to contend, they know they’ll need contributions from LaRoche. He has seen the team’s recent run of 36 runs in five games and wants nothing more than to get in on the action.

LaRoche believes the break can help him accomplish that goal.

“It will help, no question it will help,” LaRoche said. “I just want to help out. That’s the most frustrating part. Been there before, done it for plenty of years, and to not be able to do it for this long time, it just sucks. It’s a mental thing now, I will say that.

“I’m going to use these couple of days to kind of regroup. I told you guys before, it has been frustrating. I’ve tried to change small things that probably don’t show up. It hasn’t been a huge mechanical adjustment outside of some little things that you probably couldn’t see unless you were looking for them. They just don’t seem to be working, so keep fighting through it. Keep swinging.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.