White Sox

White Sox eyeing fifth or sixth game of season for Carlos Rodon's first start

White Sox eyeing fifth or sixth game of season for Carlos Rodon's first start

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carlos Rodon threw two sessions of 20 pitches in live batting practice on Wednesday, and will do the same Saturday as the White Sox ease the left-hander into preparations for the 2017 season. 

While the White Sox don't have a timetable of when Rodon will make his first Cactus League start, manager Rick Renteria said Wednesday the club will assess the next step for the 24-year-old after he throws Saturday. But what Renteria said was "probably accurate" is that Rodon will be slotted into the back end of the rotation and make his 2017 regular season debut around the fifth or sixth game in April. 

Renteria added that having Rodon, who experienced fatigue in 2016, start the season on the disabled list is "not something that I'm anticipating." The White Sox have cautiously brought Rodon along this spring with the expectation he'll carry an increased workload this summer. 

Rodon said he worked on his fastball and changeup on Wednesday, just trying to get those two pitches over the plate as he faced hitters -- albeit, in batting practice -- for the first time this spring. 

"I know nothing has changed," Rodon said. "I'm in the rotation, so I know I'm going to be pitching in April. It's spring training. We're getting ready. Sometimes people don't realize that. Those guys in the box are getting ready, and we're getting ready. Spring training is the time to get ready and then just build on that."

All systems go for Frazier 

Todd Frazier (sprained finger) started at third base in his Cactus League debut on Wednesday, lining out in his first at-bat and striking out in his second over four innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. 

"It felt good, felt good," Frazier said. "I was excited today. I haven't played in how many months, five, maybe? So it felt good to get out there, chatted with the boys and had one good at-bat. Trying to square balls up right now. I felt pretty good that first at-bat."

The 31-year-old Frazier estimated he needs 25-30 at-bats to get ready for the season. 

Quick hits from today’s game (Brewers 5, White Sox 4):

-- Avisail Garcia socked a home run to right-center in the second inning, singled twice and made two sparkling defensive plays in right field. On the first one, he raced to his left and tracked down a fly ball near the right field foul line, on the second, he made a diving catch on a sinking line drive to take away a hit. Garcia also was caught stealing. 

-- Carson Fulmer said he feels "really good at this point" after firing three innings on Wednesday. The 2015 first-round pick allowed one run on two hits (with the damage being done on a Lewis Brinson home run) with one walk and two strikeouts. 

-- The brilliantly mustachioed Tyler Saladino hit a two-run home run and Rymer Liriano added a solo shot to provide the rest of the White Sox offense. Adam Engel made a spectacular diving catch in center, too, flashing excellent range and good instincts. 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Manny Machado Mania

Manny Machado to the White Sox?? It's been the dream for many White Sox fans for months.

With Machado in town to the play the White Sox, Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber discuss the White Sox chances of signing the soon-to-be-free agent.

Garfien also talks with Nicky Delmonico who played with Machado and fellow free agent to be Bryce Harper on the U.S.A. 18-under national team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

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USA TODAY

Rick Renteria issues another benching after Welington Castillo doesn't hustle on popup

One thing you better do if you play for Rick Renteria is run to first base.

Yet again, Renteria benched one of his players Monday for the sin of not hustling down the line.

Welington Castillo, a veteran, not a developing player in need of ample “learning experiences,” popped up to first base with two runners on and nobody out in the sixth inning of Monday’s eventual 3-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. He did not run down to first, instead staying at home plate.

So when the inning ended and the White Sox took the field, Castillo stayed in the dugout.

Ricky’s boys don’t quit, or so the slogan goes. But what happens when a player doesn’t live up to that mantra? What happens when they don’t play their absolute hardest for all 27 outs, as the T-shirts preach? This is what happens. A benching.

“It was towering fly ball in the infield at first, probably had 15, 20 seconds of hangtime,” Renteria explained after the game. “I assumed the dropped ball. It has occurred. He could, at minimum, at least start moving that way.

“That’s uncharacteristic of him, to be honest, it truly is. Maybe he was just frustrated in that he had the fly ball and just stayed at the plate, but there was no movement toward first at all. And you guys have heard me talk to all the guys about at least giving an opportunity to move in that particular direction.

“Everybody says, ‘Well, 99 out of (100) times he’s going to catch that ball.’ And then that one time that he doesn’t, what would I do if the ball had been dropped? Would it have made it easier to pull him? Well, it was just as easy because you expect not the best, but the worst.

“That is uncharacteristic of that young man. I had a quick conversation with him on the bench, and he knew and that was it.”

It might seem a little overdramatic, a little nutty, even, to sit down a veteran catcher brought in this offseason to provide some offense and to do it in a one-run game. But this rebuild is about more than just waiting around for the minor league talent to make its way to the South Side. It’s about developing an organizational culture, too. And Renteria feels that if he lets this kind of thing slide at the big league level, that won’t send the right message to those precious prospects who will one day fill out this lineup.

“There’s one way to do it, you get your action, you start moving toward that direction in which you’ve got to go,” Renteria said. “What would’ve happened if everybody’s watching it — and I’m setting the tone for not only here, our club, (but also for) everybody in the minor leagues — and they’re saying, ‘Well, at the top, they said they’re going to do this and then they don’t do it.’

“It’s really simple. And people might like it, not like it. I’ve got to do this, do that so everybody understands what we’re trying to do here. We’re not done with what we’re trying to do.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in 2018. Avisail Garcia was taken out of a game during spring training for not giving maximum effort. Leury Garcia was removed from a game earlier this month for not busting it down the first-base line on a weak grounder that went right to the first baseman.

It’s become a somewhat common tactic for Renteria, and while it might strike some as taking things a little too seriously, what good is this developmental season if a culture goes undeveloped? The White Sox have placed their bright future, in part, in Renteria’s hands, and they’ve talked glowingly about how the players have bought into his style and how the team played last season under his leadership.

If Renteria truly is the right man for the rebuild, things like this are how he’s going to establish his culture. And it will, he hopes, impact how all those prospects play when they’re no longer prospects and the White Sox are contending for championships.