White Sox

With James Shields out, White Sox turn to Mike Pelfrey and won't disrupt development of pitching prospects

With James Shields out, White Sox turn to Mike Pelfrey and won't disrupt development of pitching prospects

James Shields' strained right lat created the second hole the White Sox have to fill in their rotation this year, with the right-hander being placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday evening. But as was the case with Carlos Rodon's left biceps bursitis, Rick Hahn and the front office won't accelerate or disrupt the development of the organization's trio of highly regarded pitching Triple-A prospects to temporarily take the place of someone at the major league level. 

So instead of seeing Carson Fulmer come up, or Reynaldo Lopez or Lucas Giolito make their White Sox debuts, it'll be 33-year-old right-hander Mike Pelfrey filling Shields' spot in the rotation on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians. 

"From the start, we talked about when these guys do get to Chicago for that last stage of development that happens in the big leagues, we want them to feel comfortable they will get the ball every fifth day," Hahn said. "It's not going to be snatched away from them because someone is coming off the DL or their performance isn't up to snuff in any individual start. That's the ideal path. 

"You can't always follow through on those plans in the end, but right now, we are going to do everything in our power to make sure when any of the prospects get promoted, they will be here to stay."

Fulmer (17 IP, 4.24 ERA, 11 K, 3 BB, 3 HR), Lopez (14 1/3 IP, 5.02 ERA, 19 K, 9 BB, 4 HR) and Giolito (14 IP, 6.43 ERA, 16 K, 9 BB, 3 HR) haven't got off to particularly strong starts, though none of them could've pitched their way back into the major leagues after only three starts. The White Sox will be patient with all three right-handers to make sure that, if and when they do earn their way to 35th and Shields, they're here for good and don't have to go back to the minor leagues. 

While the White Sox did consider promoting right-hander Tyler Danish, who has a 2.00 ERA in three Triple-A starts, he threw six innings Thursday and wouldn't have been able to take Shields' spot in the rotation on Saturday. Pelfrey, then, offers the smoothest transition to replacing a guy in Shields who had a 1.62 ERA in his first three starts of 2017. 

To make room for Pelfrey on the 40-man roster, outfielder Charlie Tilson will be moved to the 60-day disabled list, Hahn said. Tilson, who's been sidelined with a stress reaction in his foot since February, will be out of a walking boot on Monday but wouldn't be ready to re-join the White Sox for at least another month. 

The White Sox described Shields' lat strain as "mild" and expect he'll only miss two or three starts due to it. 

"There's no reason for me to believe right now that he won't be able to pick up where he left off once he comes off the DL here in a couple of weeks," Hahn said. 

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

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Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”