White Sox

Carlos Rodon promotion another win-now signal from White Sox

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Carlos Rodon promotion another win-now signal from White Sox

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.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: White Sox get Petricka back, send Guerra to disabled list]

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.”

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

Major League Baseball released a second voting update for All-Star Game starters and three White Sox players are still in the mix.

The top three spots at each position (and top nine in the outfield) are all that matter for now, with those players advancing to MLB’s new Starters Election. James McCann is the only member of the White Sox to sit in one of those spots for now.

McCann is second at catcher behind Gary Sanchez of the Yankees. He is nearly 800,000 votes behind the Yankees backstop.

Jose Abreu was in third in the last update at first base, but has fallen behind Carlos Santana of the Indians. Luke Volt, another Yankee, leads with C.J. Cron of the Twins in second. Santana is just under 43,000 votes ahead of Abreu.

Tim Anderson is still in fourth at shortstop. Jorge Polanco of the Twins and Carlos Correa of the Astros are comfortably in the top two spots. Gleyber Torres, yet another Yankee, is just over 45,000 votes ahead of Anderson for third.

There aren’t any other White Sox within striking distance of the top three. Yoan Moncada remains in eighth among third basemen.

Polls close Friday at 3 p.m. CT.

 

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Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

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USA TODAY

Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

When Eloy Jiménez returned from the Injured List in late May and rejoined the White Sox lineup, he went on the road to Houston and Minnesota and he struggled to the tune of a .148 batting average and .148 on-base percentage, with four hits (three went over the fence), 11 strikeouts and no walks.

For the season, his slashline was .217/.259/.406 with five walks and 36 strikeouts. He was swinging at 49.8 percent of all the pitches he saw (a bit above the 46.7 percent league average); he was swinging at 38.8 percent of pitches outside the zone (quite a bit above the 30.9 percent league average).

He returned to the comfort of Guaranteed Rate Field on May 27 and took a pair of walks. From that point forward, things started to look a lot better… and the results were in line with that observation.

Eloy Jiménez this season:

  PA AVG OBP SLG BB K Swing % Outside zone swing %
Through May 26 112 ,217 .259 .406 5 36 49.8 38.8
Since May 27 71 .297 .366 .594 7 18 45.9 30.8

Not only has he improved quite a bit, but that 30.8 outside the zone swing percentage is second only to Yonder Alonso’s 29.9 percent mark among White Sox with at least 40 plate appearances since May 27. Jiménez hasn’t been chasing nearly as many bad pitches lately.

Those pitches he has been laying off of have for the most part been the low and away stuff, as indicated by his swing charts below. First, his swing rates before getting hurt and then since he came back from injury.

These charts are from the catcher’s perspective, and from what you can see, he has done a much better job of laying off the low and away pitches. Look at the three zones furthest low and away. There’s a big difference.

Start of the year through May 26:

Since May 27:

Through May 26 he swung at 33.8 percent of pitches (51 of 151)  low and away and out of the zone. Since May 27 he has swung at 14.5 percent of those pitches (10 of 69).

It’s only an 18-game sample, so there will certainly be more adjustments made to combat Jiménez, but I believe we’re watching Eloy begin to mature into the middle of the order force as he was advertised.

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