GLENDALE, Ariz. -- They’re being cautious after he experienced fatigue in 2016, but as long as Carlos Rodon remains on track the White Sox expect he’ll be ready for the regular season.
Even though he was under the weather, Rodon threw a 35-pitch bullpen session in front of pitching coach Don Cooper at Camelback Ranch on the team’s 18th day in camp.
Strange as the scenario appears from the outside, the White Sox continue to stress they’re taking a measured approach with Rodon this spring with the expectation he’ll carry a heavy workload this season. The White Sox acknowledged for the first time Friday that Rodon experienced arm fatigue last season. But despite their cautious approach, the White Sox said Rodon’s soreness in 2016 never was serious and they have him penciled in to start this season on time.
“He’s currently is on a program, that assuming he makes all the hurdles between now and then, he should be ready to take the ball when his turn comes up the first week of the season,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “The schedule has markers along the way that have him ready to take the ball that first week.”
Rodon is scheduled to throw again on Sunday. So far he’s worked at a deliberate pace that the White Sox have compared to the schedule they used last spring with Chris Sale. After he mostly worked on backfields last March, Sale produced a career high 226 2/3 innings in 2016.
Still, there has been some question as to whether or not Rodon is completely healthy. He not only wasn’t on the same schedule as the rest of the team’s pitchers in the first week of camp, Rodon didn’t even throw the ball to first base during fielding practice.
Though he understands why the way he has been handled looks strange, Rodon insisted Sunday that he feels fine.
“We’re all good,” Rodon said. “I’m not worried so you guys shouldn’t be worried, either.
“You guys should all sleep better tonight.”
Hahn reiterated Friday that the month Rodon missed last July was strictly related to a sprained wrist and had nothing to do with fatigue. Rodon, who posted a 3.45 ERA and struck out 77 in 73 innings after he returned to action, merely altered his routine in between outings to deal with the fatigue.
“Anything that was going on with the arm last season certainly didn’t rise to the level of injury or being hurt,” Hahn said.
With Sale gone and Jose Quintana potentially soon to follow, the White Sox are hopeful Rodon can do more heavy lifting in the future. Hahn and Cooper said Friday they would like to see Rodon hit the 200-inning mark and make 32 starts.
But because of the delayed schedule, Rodon has to hit every mark the rest of the spring and that meant he had to throw on Friday despite feeling ill. Cooper said Rodon sucked it up and passed his first test “with flying colors.” He also said part of Rodon’s unique plan is in hopes of reducing the fatigue he experienced last season.
“We want to see if we can eliminate those problems so we set up a little bit of a special schedule for him,” Cooper said. “He’s starting to climb now and a couple of sidelines and a couple of batting practices just like everybody else did and we’ll continue to untrack him.”