White Sox

Carlos Rodon expected to miss 5-6 weeks for White Sox

Carlos Rodon expected to miss 5-6 weeks for White Sox

Barring any setbacks, the White Sox will be without Carlos Rodon until mid-May.

Rodon is expected to be out five to six weeks, general manager Rick Hahn said on Monday.

The White Sox southpaw is currently seven days into a two-week program where he’s throwing on flat ground. When that ends on April 10, the White Sox will give Rodon a specific program that will involve a rehab assignment at some point, according to Hahn.

Health permitting, the White Sox general manager doesn’t believe it will take the full six weeks. But they are in no rush to bring him back.

“Again, we're going to take our time on this one,” Hahn said. “If there's the least bit of discomfort or any stuff like that, we're going to take a step back and start this thing over. As I told Carlos directly, there's zero reason for us to rush through this."

Rodon wasn’t too thrilled when Hahn told him he’d start the season on the disabled list with a biceps injury, but the smart, and safe, call was made.

"When this first started and he and I had a conversation, and I shared with him 'I expect you to start on the DL' he didn't like the sound of that, even though obviously it was the right decision going forward, and he knew after he was examined it was the right decision going forward,” Hahn said. “And then when he came back from California and I said 'Well, you're being put on the DL on this date and here's the program going forward and we'll reassess on the 10th.

“Whether you miss two or three starts or you miss six or seven, we're going to take whatever time is needed,' he said 'six or seven? It's not going to be six or seven.' He's going to fight us every step of the way, but he knows and his representatives know we're doing what's best for Carlos."

With Rodon absent, the White Sox have a void to fill.

Dylan Covey, who could be the fifth man in the White Sox rotation when that turn comes up, is ready to go if needed. Manager Rick Renteria wasn’t sure if Monday’s rainout meant Covey would be in line to start Saturday against the Minnesota Twins.

Covey, a Rule 5 draft pick in December, has never pitched above the Double-A level. In 12.2 innings this spring training, he allowed 11 earned runs while working under pressure to get the outs he needed to make the White Sox Opening Day roster.

While Covey accomplished one challenging task, he has another one lying ahead of him: stay on the team.

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If Covey doesn’t remain on the White Sox main roster for the entire season, he will be placed on waivers and offered back to Oakland.

“I knew that if I obviously didn’t make the team, I was going back to Oakland and they are kind of backed up in their system right now,” Covey said. “I have no idea where I would have gone if I was sent back there. I knew that I had to make the most of every opportunity I got out here.”

As you can expect, Covey was delighted to see his name on the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career. Now he’s ready to make the most of his opportunity.

“That was awesome,” Covey said. “Got to call my family and tell them and definitely just a surreal feeling. Especially in my situation, there was so much pressure on me all spring. When they finally told me, I felt the weight was lifted off of my shoulders.

“Everyone in the clubhouse they knew the situation and they were very encouraging. When they found out I made the team, they said that’s awesome. I remember (Todd) Frazier saying that’s hard to do, congratulations. Everyone was really supportive.”

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

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USA TODAY

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

It was only a couple of months ago that Dylan Covey had an earned-run average of 2.22 and was being touted as a possible future stalwart in the White Sox rotation.

Fast forward to the present, when the 27-year-old right-hander is sitting on a four-game losing skid and sports a 6.06 ERA.

So what happened?

Location, location, location.

Covey has struggled to keep the ball down in the zone and has paid the price as hitters are teeing off on the high offerings.

“I just kind of got away from trying to keep the ball down in the zone and have that be my main focus,” Covey said. “Sometimes when I’m up in the zone I’m trying to be up there, but I need to get back to my bread and butter, which is pretty much being down in the zone with everything.”

The issues have been a combination of mechanics and mentality, according to Covey.

“Having good mechanics will lead to getting the ball down into the zone but more so it’s having the focus be down in the zone,” he said.

Covey’s next attempt to right the ship will be Saturday when he’s scheduled to pitch against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Despite his struggles, which include a 1-6 record and 7.71 ERA in his last seven starts, manager Rick Renteria has continued to give Covey the ball.

“I’ve kind of been given the luxury to have a couple of opportunities and I appreciate that,” Covey said. “They see me work and they see the stuff that I have. When I can harness it and get control of it, it can be pretty good.”

Renteria said the Sox are “confident and hopeful” that Covey can turn things around.

“In real terms, he’s the one that's got to do it,” Renteria added. “He’s worked and gained a lot of experience and knowledge and had some successes this year that I think will bode well for him. Getting it down, for him is really, really important because the ball has a lot of tremendous action below the zone. We need him to do that in order to be effective and we believe he will continue to progress in that regard.”

Covey said that a stretch from May 23-June 13 when he went 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA gave him the confidence he needs to get through this difficult stretch.

“I’ve seen it this year--I’ve had the success,” Covey said. “When things are working for me I know I can be a really good pitcher. I just need to limit the mistakes and then learn to make an adjustment sooner rather than later.”

With about six weeks remaining in the Sox’s season, Covey plans to use his opportunities on the mound to secure a place on the 2019 roster.

“That’s where a lot of guys on this team are,” Covey said. “Obviously, we want to win games right now but for me, I want to finish this season strong and get some momentum going into next year and leave off on a good note. Just to have that feeling of, ‘OK, this is what I did last year and how I finished and let’s just carry on from there and pick it up from where I left off.’”

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

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USA TODAY

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.