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."

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

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USA TODAY

White Sox fans dreaming of Patrick Corbin: His free-agent destination might already be booked

For the biggest dreamers among the White Sox faithful, here's how this offseason might be playing out.

Rick Hahn said the team will make some additions to the pitching staff. So for those dreamers, it's a rush to the top of the list of free-agent starting pitchers, right? Why not hook one of the biggest fish in the pond?

The top of that list looks like this: Clayton Kershaw (should he choose to opt out of his deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and seek a new, more lucrative one), Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin. Some might even have those last two names flipped, with Corbin, coming off an All-Star season with the Arizona Diamondbacks, second only to one of the best to ever throw a baseball.

The White Sox might not be capable of outbidding baseball's biggest spenders, and that's without even mentioning that they might simply not be looking to ink a hurler to a long-term contract. After all, that's what all those talented prospects are for, right? Assembling the rotation of the future? Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all already part of the 2019 staff. Michael Kopech, when he's done recovering from Tommy John surgery, will join them in 2020. And Dylan Cease was just named MLB Pipeline's minor league pitcher of the year. With all that in mind, any offseason additions to the rotation for 2019 might simply be one-year fill-ins.

But fans often like to dream big, and a lot of them have Corbin on their wish list.

That's not surprising when you look at his numbers. He threw 200 innings last season and struck out 246 batters while finishing with a 3.15 ERA, those last two numbers the best of his six-year big league career. He's 29 years old and a long-term deal would figure to have him in the starting rotation as the White Sox plan to shift from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

Just one problem: There's plenty of belief out there that Corbin's destination this winter has already been booked.

This has been a talking point for a while now, as the Yankees tried to bring Corbin to the Bronx via trade last offseason. They're expected to try to do so again, this time via free agency, as they've got a ton of money to spend. Corbin was quoted in the Nightengale story from April saying: "It would definitely be great to play there. I grew up a Yankee fan."

Sorry to burst your bubbles, White Sox fans. But don't blame me. Blame the Yankees, which seems to be becoming a frequent refrain. If Didi Gregorius' elbow injury means Manny Machado ends up in the Bronx this winter, too, White Sox fans might drop the Cubs as Public Enemy No. 1.

The White Sox have enough hurdles to clear in any pursuit of one of the game's top free agents: They have to compete with baseball's traditional big spenders, and they have to try and beat win-now pitches with a pitch of planned — though not yet arrived — long-term success. It's not like that hasn't been a winning battle before, though, as the rebuilding Cubs got Jon Lester to believe in their future and brought him in to help make their transition from rebuild to championship contention.

But throw in the hurdle of a history between a player and another team, and it makes it an even harder job.

The White Sox will be making some additions this offseason, though they might not be the ones fans are dreaming about. But not landing the winter's biggest fish doesn't mean the organization's biggest, most important dream of building a perennial contender on the South Side is going anywhere.

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

Top White Sox MiLB moments of 2018: Omar Vizquel's award-winning managerial debut

With the White Sox season over, we're looking back on the top 10 moments of the club's minor league season. We'll unveil one per day for 10 days, showcasing each moment in chronological order.

The moment: Omar Vizquel is named the Carolina League Manager of the Year, Sept. 13.

Vizquel became the third Winston-Salem Dash manager to be named Manager of the Year. The Dash went 84-54, the second-highest win total in franchise history and won the division title in both the first and second half.

Vizquel's season: As soon as Vizquel retired after the 2012 season, he went straight into coaching. First, he was an infield coach for the Angels in 2013. Then, he became the first base coach for the Tigers.

Vizquel remained there until taking the Dash job in the White Sox organization this season. Winston-Salem was an important post because seven of the top 10 and 16 of the top 30 prospects from MLB Pipeline's rankings spent some time there in 2018.

Vizquel was able to guide that talent to a whole bunch of winning. The Dash had the best record in the Carolina League in the regular season.

The playoffs did not go so well. The Dash got swept by the eventual league champion Buies Creek Astros in the first round.

Still, it was a successful managerial debut for Vizquel and the White Sox got to take advantage of his experience with a number of top prospects playing under him.

He may not manage the White Sox any time soon, but Vizquel's ties to the organization (two years playing with the team and now coaching in the organization) make him a possible candidate at some point in his managerial career.