White Sox

White Sox: Abreu, Frazier homer in support of 'relaxed' Rodon


White Sox: Abreu, Frazier homer in support of 'relaxed' Rodon

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carlos Rodon has a chance to get regular work in this spring now that he knows he’ll break camp with the team.

The pitcher made a nice Cactus League debut with three scoreless innings in an 8-1 White Sox win over the San Diego Padres at Camelback Ranch on Sunday. Rodon said he missed high on a few pitches, but was mostly sharp as he struck out two and allowed a walk and a hit.

Just a year after he fought to prove himself major league ready, the left-hander is expected to start the season as the No. 3 pitcher in the White Sox rotation.

“A little more relaxed,” Rodon said. “Just know what I’m doing a little more after one year of spring training. A little more comfortable, just going out there and working on stuff. Fastball, change, trying to get better on those things and bring it into the season.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Catcher Alex Avila said he tried to take Rodon out of his comfort zone as they worked together for the first time. Rather than allow Rodon to rely on his slider, Avila called for more two- and four-seam fastballs. Fastball command played a big role in Rodon’s reduction in walks in the second half of his rookie season.

“All the way around nice game for us today,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Carlos, just throwing strikes. Everybody knows about his slider, getting ahead, being able to finish guys off.”

The White Sox offense got involved early as Todd Frazier doubled and scored on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly. Jose Abreu and Frazier then homered back to back in the fourth inning — both were solos — to put the White Sox ahead by three runs.

“If we can mimic each other, it’s going to be a heck of a year,” Frazier said.

Rodon headed to the bullpen and threw eight more pitches after he exited the game. He was in the clubhouse by the time Abreu and Frazier homered.

“I watched on TV when I was in there getting a workout in,” Rodon said. “That was awesome. It’s pretty cool. It’s fun to have that kind of power in the lineup. I would like to see that quite often.”

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

The learning process continues for Dylan Cease, who just had 'my best start of the year'

Dylan Cease's ERA is still north of 5.75.

He's not a finished product, no matter how much anyone wants him to be one.

"It would be ideal for me — and my ability to sleep — and everyone’s mood if these guys came up and dominated immediately," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Thursday. "In reality there is a little bit of a learning process that goes on."

All these results, the ones that have contributed to that ugly ERA and some generally ugly outings over Cease's first couple months in the major leagues, are learning moments. Not convinced on the effectiveness of those learning moments? Just look to Lucas Giolito, who took all the struggles he had in 2018 and turned them into an All-Star 2019 season in which he's blossomed into the ace of the staff.

But, despite the hype, these guys aren't coming up finished products.

Cease, though, has flashed the potential that has earned him all that hype, and in no outing did he flash more of it than he did in Friday night's start against the visiting Texas Rangers.

Following the theme that seems to be developing in Cease starts, he had a pretty lousy inning early in the game, in this case the very first inning, in which he served up a three-run homer. The theme continues, though, that Cease usually uses all that composure and maturity everyone's always raving about to settle down and pitch a decent game. Friday night, he was more than decent. After the first inning, Cease retired the next 11 batters he faced and allowed just two hits (both singles) over five scoreless innings.

Cease, following in the tradition of perfectionist pitchers everywhere, hasn't been happy with previous outings that followed a similar script. This time, he was pleased. Maybe something to do with the career-best nine strikeouts.

"To me, that was just a huge confidence boost right there. Now I just need to not let those big innings happen," Cease said. "That's definitely my best start of the year today, besides that first inning."

"You had a couple of things going on," manager Rick Renteria said. "He had a rough first, we scored some runs, he holds them. We scored some more runs, he holds them. He kept doing that throughout. It's a big push. You see, there's a confidence-builder in that particular outing today. He should be happy how he ended up redirecting himself and righting the ship."

Cease's ability to do just that, right the ship, might give him a bit of a head start on his developmental process at the major league level. After all, Giolito and James McCann talk frequently about that issue plaguing Giolito in 2018. When things went wrong early, Giolito couldn't get back on track. He's been able to this year, contributing to his success. If Cease can do that from the day he hits the majors, that's a plus.

And if that's a tool Cease already has in his tool box, then the next step would be eliminating those early troubles. As good as Cease has looked at times, those numbers aren't lying. He's given up 32 earned runs in his 50 big league innings. He's given up 11 home runs in nine starts and has yet to have an outing without allowing a homer. Walks have been a sporadic issue: He walked just one batter in each of his last two starts but walked five in the outing prior and has three starts this year with at least four walks.

Again, learning process.

"His stuff is — it's electric stuff," Renteria said. "Sometimes you wonder, 'How can they hit him?' or 'How can they do this?' It's just (that they are) big league hitters. You leave something out over the plate or something they can manage, and they're going to do what they can do with it.

"As long as he continues to execute and use that stuff that he has, he's going to be OK."

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Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: It's Elvis night on the South Side


Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: It's Elvis night on the South Side

Scott Podsednik and David DeJesus join Leila Rahimi on Baseball Night in Chicago to discuss all things baseball.

They talk Yoan Moncada's comeback, Eloy Jiménez's injury, the Cubs' continuing bullpen struggles and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: