White Sox

White Sox: Progress is fine, but Carlos Rodon really wants to win


White Sox: Progress is fine, but Carlos Rodon really wants to win

ANAHEIM, Calif. — He realizes how big the last start was toward his development but Carlos Rodon said Tuesday he’d trade it for a team victory.

The White Sox rookie made perhaps the best start of his career on Monday night, pitching efficiently en route to the first complete game of his career. Attacking hitters first and working ahead in the count, Rodon only allowed two runs and four hits in a 104-pitch effort, his second straight start against the Los Angeles Angels.

But Rodon said the sting of a 2-1 loss makes it trickier to accept the praise his manager and teammates had for the effort.

“It’s hard to go back and look over after losing a close ballgame because like anybody else on this team, we really want to win and we need to win,” Rodon said. “It’s tough to go back and look at ‘Hey, you actually did well.’ But you’re not worried about that because you really just want to win. You’re trying to go at it for your team.”

[MORE WHITE SOX: Robin Ventura: Jeff Samardzija experiencing bump in road]

Even though he faced the Angels for the second time in six days, Rodon was in control the entire way. He got ahead of hitters earlier with his fastball, which made life easier, catcher Tyler Flowers said. Rodon also threw 13 changeups, including nine for strikes.

“That’s big for him, it opens up the slider/changeup mix later in the count,” Flowers said.

Rodon also pitched unafraid, Robin Ventura said. After he gave up the first of two solo homers — Albert Pujols homered in the second inning — the prized rookie quickly bounced back with a strikeout and two weak grounders.

“He got right back in the strike zone, didn’t let it affect him,” Ventura said.

The homers may not have bothered him, but the rookie said his up and down season hasn’t been as easy to digest.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Carlos Rodon jersey]

Back at North Carolina State, Rodon could get by with subpar stuff and strike out 10. He went 25-10 with a 2.24 ERA in college, striking out 436 batters in 346 innings en route to becoming the third overall pick of the 2014 draft.

Life was easy.

Rodon — who is 5-5 with a 4.42 ERA in 20 games (17 starts) with 54 walks and 106 strikeouts in 99 2/3 innings — expected to struggle in the majors, but he couldn’t fully grasp the concept.

Like being told he pitched one of his best games only to end up with a tough loss.

“This game will humble you real quick,” Rodon said. “It’s different. I never really experienced losing or getting hit around like that before. It’s just a step you’ve got to take and take it with a grain of salt and move on and those things happen. You give lumps and you take lumps, even the best do. This game is a funny game and that’s the way it goes.

“Sometimes you go back to thinking, ‘Maybe this pitch or that pitch,’ and it’s hard not to do that, to go back and look at stuff. But I threw well and on to the next is the way you’ve got to look at it. It’s behind me.”



As White Sox continue to pile up the strikeouts, Rick Renteria is taking the broad view


As White Sox continue to pile up the strikeouts, Rick Renteria is taking the broad view

White Sox third baseman Matt Davidson has in his mind an ideal number of times he’d strike out in a season.

“If I had it my way I’d probably strike out 20 times a year but I don’t know how you do that, really,” Davidson said before the Sox defeated the Royals 9-3 on Friday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

It’s not realistic for an everyday player to go through the season with that few strikeouts, especially on a Sox team that entered Friday’s game with 1,163 of them, the second-highest total in the major-leagues behind the Rangers’ 1,168. The Sox were on pace to strike out 1,570 times, which would break the franchise record of 1,397 set last season.

Against the Royals, the Sox struck out seven times, but made more than enough contact—including three-run home runs from Jose Abreu and Nicky Delmonico—to win for the eighth time in their last 14 games.

With the Sox going through the trials and tribulations that come along with a radical rebuild, perhaps it’s not a surprise the team strikes out as much as it has the past two seasons. They are young, aggressive at the plate and still learning at the major-league level.

“It’s just some of the experience and learning your swing and trying to improve on it every single year,” said Davidson, who went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts Friday night. “I don’t think coming up (in the minors) everybody was striking out as much as we do here so that just shows that the competition is better and we’re just also trying to learn.

“The MLB (web site) has a section just showing how nasty pitches are,” Davidson added. “Guys are really good here. It’s just a part of learning. It’s about seeing the ball, learning the zone, learning counts and understanding when they’re going to throw stirkes and when they’re going to throw balls and also just putting the bat on the ball.”

The Sox were particularly susceptible to the strikeout when they fanned 10-plus times during an eight-game stretch from Aug. 5-13, a franchise record. They fell one game short of matching the dubious major-league record of nine consecutive games with 10-plus Ks set by the Brewers in 2017.

Sox manager Rick Renteria said the cause of all the strikeouts “depends on who you want to look at. You could look at it collectively (or) you can look at it individually. We have one of the young men (Yoan Moncada) who has quite a few under his belt, both looking and swinging (for a major-league leading 172 this season). Two-strike approach obviously is something we talk about a lot and still has to be implemented in practical terms so that it's useful. We don't want our guys swinging out of the zone. We do want them to be able to defend themselves and keep a ball in play possibly when need be.

“But I'm not thinking in regards of how (strikeouts) continue to mount and what that indicates or doesn't indicate,” Renteria added. “We look at all of our guys individually and figure out what it is we can help them with in terms of attacking that strike zone and being ready to hit.”

Rick Renteria still looking for 'a little better effort' from Avisail Garcia despite injury


Rick Renteria still looking for 'a little better effort' from Avisail Garcia despite injury

Rick Renteria proved once again that he won’t let his boys quit.

The White Sox manager pulled Avisail Garcia from Friday night’s 9-3 victory over the Royals after the outfielder failed to run hard out of the box during a first-inning flyout. It wasn’t the first time Renteria has made a point by pulling a player during a game. Garcia was yanked from a spring training contest for not running hard out of the box and Tim Anderson got the same treatment in July.

“I didn’t think (Garcia) had given me an effort on the Texas Leaguer,” Renteria said after Friday’s victory. “If the ball falls in, you have to possibly advance.”

Renteria was quick to point out that Garcia is playing with a right knee injury that the right fielder said would have to be addressed—likely with surgery—during the offseason.

“He does have a knee that’s bothering him a little bit,” Renteria said. “I told him, ‘you certainly looked like something was bothering you.’ He said, ‘I felt it click when I came out of the box.’ ‘I said you understand you can still give me a better effort out of the box (and) he said, ‘yes, I understand that. I’m feeling this.’ We addressed it a little bit. He’ll be back in there (Saturday night). He realizes he still feels he can give us a little better effort.”

Garcia, who has been on the disabled list twice this season due to hamstring injuries, said he understood Renteria’s decision. 

“I felt a click (in the knee) and I didn’t run,” Garcia said. “Even if I felt a click I can do a better effort if I want to play and I want to play. That’s why they take me out. I felt a click and I was a little bit scared about it but I’m OK.”

Renteria said it is important down the stretch to communicate with Garcia when it comes to managing his knee.

“That’s why we had the conversation,” Renteria said. “He doesn’t want to come out of the lineup. He says he can play every day, he says, ‘I can manage this, I can play through this, I’ll be fine.’ I said then give me a little more effort on some of those plays. I get it that you may feel it but if you feel it, just explain to me what’s going on and we can manage it that way. He really doesn’t want to come out. He wants to play.

“We’ve never had a problem with (Garcia),” Renteria added. “Despite a couple times here or there where we’ve taken him out, if you watch him he busts his rear end pretty much all the time. That was a rarity. At that particular point in time it was my decision to pull him out.”

Garcia said he will continue to play through the knee issue.

“I just have to keep going,” Garcia said. “But I was scared a little bit because I felt like a click. But at the same time, I didn’t run hard enough so I’m OK with it. I’m good to play.”

When asked if Garcia will get the knee taken care of following the season, he responded, “yeah, for sure. One-hundred percent.”