The White Sox don’t need a reminder that 2015 is a win-now season, not with a slew of high-priced veterans getting settled into their first lengthy homestead of the year this week.
But Carlos Rodon’s promotion from Triple-A Charlotte’s rotation to the major league bullpen is another signal the White Sox intend to contend this year, even if their 4-7 record doesn’t show it yet.
General manager Rick Hahn, though, said Rodon wasn’t called up as a reaction to his club’s slow start.
“I don’t think there’s an overarching message or some directive we are trying to send to the league or anything like that,” Hahn said. “It’s a matter of here’s a player who is ready for this in terms of his development, the next stage of his development. Someone who makes us better and someone who we feel will help us win ballgames right now.”
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Hahn later said: “This is about Carlos' long-term ability to contribute in Chicago and ultimately at the front end of the rotation. This move would've been made if we were 11-0 right now.”
That the White Sox made an aggressive move didn’t come as a surprise inside the team’s clubhouse. The club traded for Jeff Samardzija and signed Melky Cabrera and closer David Robertson for a combined $88 million in the offseason and hasn’t been shy about aggressively promoting young players in recent history.
Gordon Beckham was called up in 2009 barely a year after he was drafted. Chris Sale made his major league debut — like Rodon will, as a reliever — only months after being drafted in 2010. Jose Quintana went from an off-the-radar Double-A starter to a mainstay in the major league rotation in 2012.
“I feel like I’ve kind of seen that over the years, it seems like we’re never hesitant in the business aspect, to spend the money or start the clock, all those kind of things,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “I think that always bodes well in the clubhouse where the determination to have success with this team is there and it’s obvious when you make a move like (Rodon).”
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The White Sox don’t have a timetable for how long Rodon will stay in the bullpen before inserting him into the rotation. Manager Robin Ventura said he’ll ease Rodon into major league work but could consider him for long relief or one-out, playing-the-percentages duties against a lefty.
Hahn referred to Rodon’s 2015 innings as a “scarce resource,” so keeping him in the bullpen for a bit could allow him to pitch throughout the season and avoid a late-season shutdown during a pennant race. The White Sox have every intention of keeping Rodon in the major leagues now that he’s here, so a demotion back to his native North Carolina when right-hander Javy Guerra is eligible to come off the disabled list doesn’t appear to be part of the plan.
So barring something unforeseen, Rodon is in Chicago to stay. And with him in the bullpen and/or rotation, the White Sox expect he’ll be an important piece to a playoff push this summer.
“I don’t think we need any more reassurance on the win-now type mentality,” Samardzija said. “I think when you call a guy up like that, you think he’s ready. You don’t call a guy up to the big leagues unless you think he’s ready to help the team. Obviously there’s something they feel he can bring to this team that they enjoy. I think all of us are excited to watch him throw and continue to grow and get better.”