White Sox

White Sox figuring out plan for Carlos Rodon's next appearance

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White Sox figuring out plan for Carlos Rodon's next appearance

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.”

[MORE: Carlos Rodon has several keepsakes from first victory]

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.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

 

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."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

SportsTalk Live is on location at McCormick Place to preview SoxFest 2020. Chuck Garfien and David Haugh join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00 - White Sox manager Rick Renteria joins the guys to talk about the team's big offseason and the expectations for the 2020 season. He also talks about how the team with handle Michael Kopech (4:00) and what Dallas Keuchel brings to the rotation. (6:00) Plus, he explains how guys who turned the corner in 2019 like Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada can stay hot in 2020. (15:00)

17:00 - Steve Stone joins the guys to explain how the White Sox rebuild is going according to plan despite not landing one of the top free agents this winter. Plus, he updates his Twitter follower battle with Jason Benetti (23:00) and talks about how he would handle Michael Kopech's return. (25:30)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

White Sox reward for winning the offseason: They get to talk playoffs ... or bust

White Sox reward for winning the offseason: They get to talk playoffs ... or bust

The White Sox know there is no trophy for winning the offseason.

Make no mistake, they did win the offseason, Rick Hahn’s front office adding enough veteran cache to vault the 89-loss South Siders from just another rebuilding team with a bright future to a team whose future is pulling into the station.

But there was no self-congratulating at Hahn’s pre-SoxFest press conference Thursday.

“Quite candidly, we haven't accomplished anything yet, we haven't won yet,” he said. “This whole process was about winning championships, was about finishing with a parade at the end of October down Michigan Avenue. Until that happens, I don't think any of us are really in a position to feel satisfied or feel like we've accomplished anything.

“We've had a nice winter. We've had, frankly, in our opinion, a real nice three years since we started (the rebuild) with the Chris Sale trade. We think very bright days are ahead of us, and we look forward to enjoying them. But in terms of feeling like we've accomplished something or feeling satisfied, ask me after the parade.”

Give me a second while I email that last bit over to our marketing department. They might be able to conjure up a few things with “ask me after the parade.”

But in all seriousness, Hahn is right. There is no trophy for winning the offseason. The act of signing free agents does not balance out all the losing over the last three seasons. Only winning can do that.

There has been, however, a reward for winning the offseason. Rick Renteria — and presumably all his players this weekend during SoxFest — get to talk about playoff expectations. Real ones.

“I would be disappointed if we don’t make the postseason,” Renteria said during his own session Thursday. “We want to break through. We want this to be an impactful season.”

As recently as a year ago, no matter how bright the future appeared to be, that comment would have raised eyebrows. It would not have been taken seriously. Now? It is the expectation.

Renteria has not been shy about the rebuilding White Sox turning the corner in 2020. He spent the last few weeks of the 2019 campaign making similar postseason proclamations. But now Hahn has backed his manager up with all this winter’s acquisitions.

The White Sox place in the standings by the end of September still figures to have a lot more to do with Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito and Eloy Jimenez and Tim Anderson and Luis Robert than any of the individual newcomers, even players as talented and accomplished as Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel. The core is that important. But the outsiders brought in this offseason have embodied the turning tide — and given Renteria the chance to talk seriously about these kinds of big expectations for the first time in his tenure as the South Side skipper.

“I think, man for man,” he said, “now we at least have a little bit more ammunition to be able to go out and compete hopefully on a consistent basis and put those victories on the board.

“I’m not afraid of talking about high expectations and winning. … If we do our job and we go about preparing and hopefully the actions and performances come to fruition, we should be on top of the victory column in terms of wins and losses. And there’s nothing beyond my thought that doesn’t say that I expect us to compete and be in conversation for postseason play.”

Hahn isn’t quite as willing to declare the 2020 season “playoffs or bust” because he’s still got his eye on the long term, the same place it’s been throughout this rebuilding process. That next parade down Michigan Avenue is supposed to be merely the first.

And so while the White Sox can reap the rewards of Hahn’s offseason work in the form of preseason talk, he’ll bask in nothing more than setting up his team for that long-term postseason success.

“I think the expectations are understandably high, at least when you talk to Ricky or the coaches or any of the players or anyone in uniform. Their expectation is that this team is in a position to win in the 2020 season, which is exactly where all of us in the front office would want them to be,” he said. “That said, whether you're talking Jerry (Reinsdorf) or Kenny (Williams) or myself, the entire purpose of this rebuild was to put ourselves in a multi-year position to win multiple championships.

“So the progress that we make in any given offseason has to be viewed not just about what's going to happen in that upcoming season, but what position that puts us in toward accomplishing that long-term goal. We want to make sure that we are well positioned, once that window opens, to win as many championships as possible.

“When that window opens, we're going to find out together. I certainly think the players in uniform think it's going to happen come Opening Day of this year. Whether we're blessed with good health and continued progress from our young players, we're going to find out together.

“But we look at it, in the front office, from a multi-year perspective. The guys in uniform are going to do everything in their power to make it about now, which you've got to appreciate.”

That’s going to be the theme of this weekend, as White Sox fans descend on SoxFest with more excitement than they have in years. This is a White Sox team expected to reach October, and that hasn’t exactly been common, as evidenced by the franchise’s more than decade-long postseason drought.

Hahn can talk about putting the team in good position for 2021 and 2022 and 2023 and beyond all he wants. The fans are finally — and with good reason — thinking playoffs or bust for the upcoming season.

And the manager agrees.

“I see our club, and I want to go into this season thinking I don't want to miss an opportunity,” Renteria said. “That's my goal right now, not to miss this opportunity. Expectations bread opportunities. I'm not afraid of expectations because it breads opportunity. I want to attain and complete those tasks that I think our club is going to have a chance to be able to do.

“I'm not afraid to say it.”

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