White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has referred to Carlos Rodon’s innings as a “scarce resource,” so his strong starting debut doesn’t guarantee him another turn in the club’s rotation.
Rodon allowed two runs over six innings in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Cincinnati, throwing 108 pitches with eight strikeouts and four walks. Manager Robin Ventura said Sunday Rodon’s next appearance won’t come until the White Sox three-game series in Oakland next weekend, meaning he’s ruled out to pitch May 11-13 against Milwaukee.
Ventura wouldn’t say whether Rodon will pitch as a starter or reliever next, though he only earned his start Saturday because of brawl-related suspensions to Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale. But even if Rodon is one of the team’s five best starters, the larger issue surrounds bringing the former first-round pick along slowly in the majors.
“He is a big strong kid, that stuff is obvious,” Ventura said. “You still have to protect against the urge of just running him up there for 200 something innings. That’s something to think about. It’s significant enough that you have to have that cross your mind.”
Rodon’s fastball topped out at 99 miles per hour Saturday and his slider generated six swings and misses. After walking the first two batters he faced, Rodon settled down and looked like the guy the White Sox viewed as worthy of the largest signing bonus ($6.582 million) in franchise history.
Catcher Geovany Soto said that’ll be the key for Rodon, either as a starter or reliever — if the 22-year-old stays within himself and doesn’t try to do too much, he’ll be fine.
“He was definitely following me out there,” Soto said. “But I knew that the task in hand. For a young guy like that and the stuff that he has, it wasn’t that hard work. This guy has some tools, some velocity, slider is really sharp so this guy is going to be a really impressive.”
Rodon said throwing to Soto, an 11-year veteran, was important in calming him down (he similarly trusts Tyler Flowers, who has a strong reputation for handling pitchers). One thing Soto and the White Sox don’t have to worry about, though, is Rodon over-thinking things early in his career.
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Part of the transition from Triple-A to the majors is learning how to use all the extra information available like detailed scouting reports or video. Rodon, though, said he’s not too concerned with that kind of information and usually leaves the in-depth studying to his catchers.
“I’m not a guy that’s much on scouting reports,” Rodon said. “I’ll just let the catcher, Geo or Flow handle that because they understand it, they know what to put down and I’m usually going with whatever they call. I’m always comfortable.
“I try to keep away from that kind of thinking, who’s going to do what, what are his tendencies, that’s something I don’t worry about. (Soto) is a guy I have a lot of trust in, (he’s) been here before so he knows what to call.”
Since joining the big league club for most of spring training, Rodon has been roundly praised by coaches and teammates for keeping his head down and listening more than talking. His demeanor, despite all the hype surrounding him, has only cemented the White Sox belief that he’ll be a fixture in their starting rotation at some point.
Rodon’s immediate future, though, could take him back to the bullpen. But relief work was the plan when he was promoted from Triple-A April 20, and it won’t change his long-term outlook with the organization.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” Soto said. “He’s needs to keep working hard, he needs to pay attention and do everything he needs to do. But talent-wise, he’s got everything."