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."

After homering for his first MLB hit, Zack Collins was 'in shock'

After homering for his first MLB hit, Zack Collins was 'in shock'

The young players that figure to feature heavily in the future of the White Sox have had quite a week.

It started with Lucas Giolito being the first pitcher in the majors to reach 10 wins, then Eloy Jimenez blasted a big go-ahead home run in the ninth inning in his first crosstown game against the Cubs. Now, Zack Collins has added his own blast of optimism to the White Sox young core.

The 24-year-old made his first major league start on Friday in Texas and delivered a three-run home run in his first at-bat. It was his second MLB plate appearance after he drew a pinch-hit walk Wednesday in Wrigley.

After the White Sox beat the Rangers 5-4 in 10 innings, Collins talked to Jason Benetti and Steve Stone on the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast.

“Honestly I was just in shock,” Collins said. “I was running around the bases. It seemed like it lasted like three seconds and I felt myself sprinting around second so I had to slow it down and enjoy the moment, but it was an awesome time.”

Collins finished 1-for-5 with three strikeouts, but that is Collins’ game. He’s going to strikeout a lot and his batting average probably won’t be pretty. He has a career .234 batting average in the minors (.250 in Triple-A Charlotte this year), but he coupled that with a .378 on-base percentage and big power.

In his five trips to the plate on Friday, Collins saw 22 pitches. He’s going to work the count and sometimes he’s going to run into home runs.

“It was smooth,” Collins said. “I just kind of put the ball in play and the ball flew. I really don’t know. It was kind of a blur to me. It was obviously a big moment for me.”

Collins was called up Tuesday morning ahead of the first game against the Cubs. He didn’t play that game, but the pinch-hit walk on Wednesday helped take out some of the nerves.

“On Wednesday night I stepped up, I had a little bit of jitters, had a little bit of butterflies and stuff, but I think that was the point of getting in there on Wednesday and getting all that out,” Collins said. “It felt good tonight.”

Collins still hasn’t played catcher since he got called up. He was the DH in Friday’s lineup. That didn’t stop his dad from being excited about his first start.

“I was pumped,” Collins said of when he saw he was in the lineup. “I immediately texted my dad and told him I was in there. He told me good luck, play hard, do your thing. Obviously it started off well and we got a big win tonight so it was fun.”

As of the postgame interview, Collins didn’t yet have his home run ball. However, it sounded like he was able to make a deal with a fan for it.

“Somebody said they did get the ball,” Collins said. “I think I have to make a little trade with somebody.”

 

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WATCH: Zack Collins hits a three-run homer for his first MLB hit

WATCH: Zack Collins hits a three-run homer for his first MLB hit

Zack Collins started his MLB career in fitting fashion, with a walk.

In his next trip to the plate, he hit a home run.

Collins came on as a pinch-hitter Wednesday at the Cubs and drew that walk. Friday's game at Texas was his first start. The 2016 first-round pick entered the lineup as a DH and batted eighth.

He came up with two on and two out against Rangers starter Ariel Jurado. Collins, as he is known for, took the first three pitches before fouling off a curve on a 2-1 count. Then he took a slider deep to right-center.

Watch Collins' home run in the video above.

Collins is known for three things as a hitter: home runs, walks and strikeouts. Before getting called up from Triple-A Charlotte, Collins was hitting .250/.374/.482. He had nine home runs in 50 games with 36 walks and 66 strikeouts. He was sixth in the International League in walks while playing fewer games due to splitting time at catcher.

In a very short time period, Collins is showing what the White Sox thought they were getting when they drafted him 10th overall in 2016.

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