White Sox

Carlos Rodon rocked as White Sox lose to Angels

Carlos Rodon rocked as White Sox lose to Angels

Carlos Rodon wasn’t around long enough on Monday night to watch the White Sox offense yet again struggle.

The youngster turned in the shortest outing by a White Sox starting pitcher since August 2003 as he recorded only one out before the Los Angeles Angels knocked him out of the game. Rodon allowed five first-inning runs and Hector Santiago cruised against his former team in a 7-0 blowout of the White Sox in front of 14,706 at U.S. Cellular Field. Santiago tied a career-high with 10 strikeouts and combined with two relievers on a three-hit shutout to send the White Sox to their third straight loss.

“Carlos didn't have it tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “They did a good job putting it in play. He just seemed to be all over the place and he couldn't get through.”

Whereas he had commanded his pitches well in his last 10 starts, Rodon didn’t have any Monday. He fell behind in the count to eight of the nine batters he faced and issued early walks to Albert Pujols and Mike Trout to load the bases with one out.

Fastball, slider, change -- it didn’t matter -- Rodon couldn’t consistently throw a strike with any of them.

“Felt good coming out and it just wasn’t there,” Rodon said. “No command, nothing. Just didn’t make it happen.”

All of the sudden, the White Sox bullpen went on alert.

“You see it unfold, you never want to see it,” reliever Zach Duke said. “But you switch gears real quick and realize we’re going to have to cover a lot and do whatever it takes.”

Rodon hoped he could get through three or four innings. The Angels made sure he didn’t escape the first.

Still scoreless and with the bags loaded, Kole Calhoun began a stretch of five straight one-out singles -- only C.J. Cron didn’t score a run -- that helped Los Angeles bust the game wide open. Andrelton Simmons’ single produced two runs as Jose Abreu cut off Adam Eaton’s throw home and tried to flip the ball to first, only to fling it to the dugout screen, which made it 3-0. Geovany Soto followed with an RBI single, Cron singled and Johnny Giavotella ended Rodon’s night with an RBI single.

Rodon’s ERA rose from 1.38 to 4.73 by the time threw his 41st and final pitch.

Injuries aside, Rodon’s start was the shortest by a White Sox starter since August 28, 2003 when manager Jerry Manuel opted to start Neal Cotts over Mark Buehrle at Yankee Stadium.

“It’s just one of those games,” Eaton said. “Every pitcher has them, from the best, Chris Sale, to other pitchers. (Rodon) learned from it.

“He’s a heck of a competitor. And talking to him about his failures and how he can learn from it and get better as we all do, I think he’ll only be better in the long run for this outing.”

The bullpen isn’t in great shape in the interim.

Jake Petricka ended the 25-minute top of the first inning when he induced a double play off Yunel Escobar’s bat.

At the point of Rodon’s exit, the biggest question became who would record the final 26 outs for the White Sox, who are without a true long reliever on the 25-man roster.

Petricka recorded eight outs with a run allowed on 33 pitches.

Zach Putnam retired the side in order in three straight innings on 34 pitches while Dan Jennings allowed a run in two innings and threw 49 pitches. Duke pitched a scoreless ninth for the White Sox, who are in the midst of a stretch with 19 games in 19 days.

Afterward, the White Sox optioned outfielder J.B. Shuck to Triple-A Charlotte to make room for an additional pitcher, who will be added before Tuesday’s game.

“It would have been nice to go three or four for the guys instead of a third of an inning and get one out,” Rodon said. “Just didn’t happen today.

“Just kind of forget about it. I had nine innings of baseball to think about it. Tomorrow’s a new day and this team has gotta win, we’ve got to get out of this losing streak and get this thing going again.”

Santiago made easy work of his former team, which has become a trend of late.

The left-hander pitched out of a jam in the first as Todd Frazier flew out and Melky Cabrera lined out to third to strand two. That began a stretch where Santiago retired 14 of 15 batters, including seven strikeouts. Santiago struck out two more in the sixth as he worked around an Adam Eaton double and a Frazier walk. He retired the side in order in his seventh and final inning and allowed two hits and three walks.

The White Sox have scored 15 runs in the past seven games and only five in their last four.

“They're going to have to figure this one out,” Ventura said. “It was up and down the lineup.”

Eloy Jimenez is swinging some kind of a hot bat in Triple-A, giving White Sox fans visions of the (near?) future

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USA TODAY

Eloy Jimenez is swinging some kind of a hot bat in Triple-A, giving White Sox fans visions of the (near?) future

The White Sox once more dropped to 30 games below .500 on Sunday, providing another reminder that this isn't the season where the team will be competing for a playoff spot or any kind of championship.

But all fans have to do is check the box scores rolling in from Triple-A Charlotte to get another kind of reminder: that a season where the White Sox will be competing for a playoff spot and a championship could be right around the corner.

Eloy Jimenez, the team's top-rated prospect and the No. 2 prospect in baseball, is killing it lately. Since returning from the disabled list in the middle of the month, Jimenez has a .424 batting average and is slugging a jaw-dropping .818 — thanks to three homers and four doubles — in eight games.

These are just the latest superb numbers from Jimenez, who has torn it up all season long, first at Double-A Birmingham and then in Charlotte since his promotion on July 1. Heading into Sunday's game, he was slashing .324/.375/.572 between the two levels. Then he upped those numbers with a base hit in his lone plate appearance as a pinch hitter in Sunday's game.

The only thing that can be seen as a negative for Jimenez this season — and this really isn't too much of one — has been health. While he's avoided the significant injuries that have stolen months of development time away from the likes of Luis Robert, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning, Jake Burger and Micker Adolfo, Jimenez did start the season late with a pec injury and then missed a couple weeks earlier this month with a strained adductor muscle. Judging by the results, neither injury has done much (if anything) to negatively impact his offensive capabilities.

And so with the statistics remaining ridiculously good and getting better, the question that's dogged the White Sox dating back to the end of last season remains: When will Jimenez join the big league roster?

Only the White Sox have the answer to that question at the moment, but it would figure to be some time relatively soon and almost certainly before this season is over. That might not be specific enough for the fans clamoring to watch Jimenez play on the South Side. But take some cues from what general manager Rick Hahn has been saying all season:

First off, the White Sox performance and place in the standings will have no bearing on when Jimenez is promoted. The team will not bring Jimenez up just to inject some life into the final 60 games of the 2018 campaign. Jimenez's development has nothing to do with this team's win-loss record and is completely tied to the team's future, not its present.

Second, Hahn has talked about the benefits of Jimenez receiving at-bats at the Triple-A level and gaining experience facing the kinds of pitchers he didn't face in the lower levels of the minor leagues. He obviously didn't put a number on it, so the argument that Jimenez's 80 plate appearances in 20 games are enough to determine he's big league ready is potentially valid or potentially invalid, depending on what the White Sox have determined they want to see behind the scenes.

Third, Hahn has often said that not everything shows up in box scores. While Jimenez is putting up big numbers, the team is looking for other things that aren't as easy to recognize for those of us who aren't in the player-development business, not to mention those of us who don't even have an MiLB.TV subscription. Hahn said the same thing when Michael Kopech started the season in dominating fashion, and Kopech remains at Triple-A as the White Sox continue to wait for him to reach certain developmental benchmarks.

Fourth, Hahn has pointed to last year's treatment of Yoan Moncada as somewhat of a template for how the White Sox will treat their highest-rated prospects who are close to reaching the majors. Moncada, unlike Jimenez, had a small amount of big league experience before joining the organization in the Chris Sale trade, making his case slightly different. But he, too, was putting up good numbers at Triple-A, with a .282/.377/.447 slash line before his promotion on July 19. Moncada debuted about this time last season after doing well at the Triple-A level, but remember that he played 80 games there after starting the season with Charlotte. Jimenez joined that club in the middle of the season and has played in a quarter of the games that Moncada did before getting the call to make his White Sox debut. Though it's true that Jimenez is putting up significantly more impressive offensive numbers.

So "relatively soon" is perhaps the best we can do right now when trying to predict when Jimenez will reach the South Side. The White Sox have their own checklist when it comes to Jimenez's development, just like they do with every player, and only they will know when he's completed that list.

What is no mystery is how Jimenez is faring at Triple-A. He's swinging a red-hot bat, and few would argue that the numbers don't look major league ready. There's more to it than just the numbers, of course, but it would figure to be a safe bet that White Sox fans will be able to start purchasing Jimenez shirseys before the clock runs out on the 2018 season.

Avi Garcia's played in fewer than 20 games since April, but could he still attract trade-deadline suitors?

Avi Garcia's played in fewer than 20 games since April, but could he still attract trade-deadline suitors?

Avisail Garcia returned from his latest disabled-list stint with a bang, smacking a three-run home run in the fourth inning Saturday in Seattle.

The White Sox right fielder hasn't even played in 20 games since late April, when he went on his first DL trip, which lasted two months. A second, also featuring an injury to his hamstring, made it two weeks between games.

But when he has been able to step to the plate this summer, Garcia has been tremendously productive. He came into Saturday night with a .333/.347/.783 slash line and a whopping eight home runs in the 17 games he played in between his two DL stays. Then he added that homer Saturday night off longtime Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, giving him nine homers in his last 14 games.

Keeping this up could do an awful lot of things for Garcia: It could make his ice-cold start a distant memory, it could prove that last year's All-Star season might not have been a fluke, and it could keep him entrenched in the conversation about the White Sox outfield of the future, giving the team one of those good problems to have when deciding how he would fit into the puzzle alongside top prospects like Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert.

But here's another possibility: Has Garcia swung a hot enough bat in his limited action that he could be a trade candidate before this month runs out?

The White Sox don't figure to have too many players who are going to get contending teams worked up into a lather. James Shields, Joakim Soria, Luis Avilan, Xavier Cedeno. Those guys could classify as additions that would bolster teams' depth, but they might not be the attractive upgrades the White Sox were able to trade away last summer.

Garcia, though, could be. He might not slide into the middle of the order for too many contenders, but someone looking for a starting corner outfielder might be enticed by the kind of numbers Garcia has put up in June and July, albeit in a small sample size. Teams would also have to consider his health. He's already been to the disabled list twice this season. Teams would certainly have to be confident he wouldn't return in order to make a deal.

On the White Sox end, Garcia would figure to fetch a far more intriguing return package than the aforementioned pitchers, given that he's still pretty young (27) with one more season of team control after this one.

The White Sox have plenty of options when it comes to Garcia. They could deal him now, deal him later or keep as a part of the rebuild, extending him and making him a featured player on the next contending team on the South Side. But with a lot of significant injuries this year perhaps having an effect on when all those highly rated prospects will finally arrive in the majors — not to mention the disappointing win-loss numbers the big league team has put up this season — perhaps it would make more sense to acquire some rebuild-bolstering pieces.

Of course, it all depends on if there are any deals to be made. Do other teams' front offices like what they've seen from Garcia in this short stretch as much as White Sox fans have? We'll know by the time August rolls around.