MINNEAPOLIS — The White Sox want Carlos Rodon to get comfortable in the bullpen while picking the appropriate time to use him in games. And, they have to balance that against maintaining arm strength for when the left-hander could eventually move into the team’s starting rotation.
This is Rodon’s 13th day in the majors. Entering Saturday’s game, the team’s top pitching prospect has appeared in two games, the last on Wednesday. While he threw 60 pitches in his first outing, over 2 1/3 innings, Rodon only needed five for a scoreless frame against the Baltimore Orioles.
“He hasn’t really had that spot to come in,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I know we got him an inning the other day. I think he’s getting used to being out there and being able to get up and get ready quick. When you are in the bullpen, you don’t have the luxury of showing up on your day and eating a nice breakfast and having a couple of hours to get ready for your performance.
“You have to snap in to be ready to go. He’s getting a lot more where he’s able to do that. We need him to do that if he’s going to be in the bullpen.”
That’s the big if.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has said Rodon’s 2015 innings are scarce resource. The franchise has a tried and true program for keeping pitchers healthy and therefore isn’t going to run Rodon’s inning count up to 180. But Rodon could still move into the rotation sometime in the foreseeable future. The challenge is keeping him built up enough, something pitching coach Don Cooper has a plan for just like the White Sox employed with Hector Noesi last season.
“He’s going to be pitching regularly and there are things coming up that believe me, he’s way up in the front of our minds in keeping him ready,” Cooper said. “Not only to pitch in the role he’s in, but eventually hopefully if he does make a jump in the starting rotation. But again that doesn’t worry me because we did it last year with Noesi.”
Rodon isn’t worried about when — or if — he’ll make the jump into the rotation this season. His current role — though he’s not totally clear on how he’ll be used — ensures he needs to be focused on if he gets the call that day.
“I guess my role is a long relief guy so I’ll be a guy that throws numerous pitches,” Rodon said. “Who knows what that pitch count will be? So I have to get used to being extended. That’s normal for long relief.”