MILWAUKEE — A maintenance plan remains in place, but Carlos Rodon is officially part of the White Sox starting rotation.
While Rodon won’t make each of the 27 turns left in the rotation, general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday that the time is now to begin transitioning the team’s top prospect from the bullpen into the rotation.
After he made a successful first start and won on Saturday, Rodon’s next turn comes Friday in Oakland. But much like they monitored Chris Sale’s workload in 2012, the White Sox intend to adjust how they use Rodon in the hope of preservation in both the long and short term.
“We are going to remain flexible and may have to make some alterations,” Hahn said. “There will be periods of breaks for him in this process.
“There will be times when he is skipped, there will be times when he has more than the regular four or five days off. But the process of transitioning him into a starter will begin Friday in Oakland.”
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Hahn previously has discussed the move from Triple-A Charlotte to the White Sox as the final step in Rodon’s development. The White Sox know he has the tools, they just need the process refined. Manager Robin Ventura believes the move from reliever to starter should help, particularly because Rodon will have to use the changeup more often.
“The best part of it is he gets to use everything,” Ventura said. “When he goes in there as a reliever, he’s just trying to get in and out as fast as he can. Now with that start that he had, you’re able to use maybe his changeup a little more and have a little more variety than just fastball-slider. And I think command-wise he’s going to be better with that.”
Rodon only threw his changeup twice in a 108-pitch effort over six innings against the Cincinnati Reds. But that was more a function of helping Rodon, the third overall pick in last June’s draft, get through his first start and using the pitches with which he’s the most comfortable — the fastball and slider.
“The changeup is on the side,” Rodon said. “We can use it too. I have a feel for it. It’s whatever is put down is what I’m going to throw.”
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He’s also on board with whatever the White Sox ask. Rodon understands this is a process and the White Sox have his best interest in mind.
Hahn won’t say if the White Sox have a specific innings limit for Rodon. After all, Sale went from 71 innings in 2011 to 192 in 2012. But the thought is the White Sox would like to keep Rodon around 150-160 innings, and he already has 22 1/3 on the books.
“First full season in pro ball, you have to manage innings,” Rodon said. “I’m kind of not used to that kind of workload. Most I’ve thrown is 130 or 150 innings. It gets up to 190 or 200 pretty easily.
“Just go along with what they put in front of me and take it day by day. ... We’ll manage to it.”
A plan is mapped out, but the White Sox are ready to adjust as needed. As they did with Sale, the White Sox will rely heavily on communication from Rodon. While nothing is set in stone on how he’ll be used, Rodon made it clear on Saturday he can impact the club.
“As we said from the start when we drafted him, we viewed him as a long-term member of the rotation and at some point we though he would join it, we just didn’t know exactly when,” Hahn said. “Based upon, obviously that last outing was strong, as well as some of the stuff we wanted to work on in a sideline, which started today with Don (Cooper), we felt now was the right time to start that process.”