White Sox

Matt Davidson returns to mound — and seriously wants to explore pitching more for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Matt Davidson returns to mound — and seriously wants to explore pitching more for White Sox

Matt Davidson has faced six batters. And he’s retired every single one of them.

Davidson carries one of the White Sox more powerful bats, but he came on for his second relief appearance of the season in Friday night’s 10-5 loss to the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. It’s usually not a good sign when position players are pitching — just ask the Cubs, who handed the ball to four different position players over the course of a few days in the last week — and from that standpoint Davidson is hoping he doesn’t have take the mound again.

But as a guy who grew up wanting to be a strikeout machine, he actually would love to keep pitching for the White Sox, going as far as saying he’d love to add more regular pitching to his job description.

Just call him the South Side version of Shohei Ohtani.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” Davidson said after Friday’s game. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Davidson’s serious suggestion might never materialize. After all, he’s paid to hit and play the field, while there are a dozen guys on this roster paid to pitch. But it’s hard to argue when you see how effective he was. This wasn’t typical position-player lobbing. He was hitting the low 90s with his fastball and threw a curveball made Teoscar Hernandez look downright silly.

Look at the break on that ball.

Considering the heavy bullpen use in today’s game, maybe making a position player a regular part-time pitcher doesn’t sound so crazy. It sure would help to save arms on a night like Friday, when Reynaldo Lopez gave up five home runs and the White Sox were in a 10-1 hole after five innings. Even without Davidson’s ninth inning, the White Sox used four relief pitchers to bridge the gap between Lopez and the end of the game.

“He does have a good feel,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He enjoys the possibility of doing it. He’s one of those guys, positionally speaking, you don’t want to do it all the time, but you don’t worry about him throwing strikes. He has a good feel for what he’s doing.

“He’s throwing 91 mph with a breaking ball. You know that he’s got a chance to make those guys swing the bat, and not a lot to get out of control.”

Davidson would like to be able to help his team out in as many ways as possible, and his seemingly above-average pitching ability for a position player might be able to do just that if the White Sox find themselves in this kind of situation again over the final two months of the season.

But what about taking it a step further? After the White Sox traded Joakim Soria on Thursday, they’re in need of a new closer. Is Davidson throwing his hat in the ring for that role?

“Yeah, I’ll do it,” he joked. “When Soria got traded, I was like, ‘I’m your closer now.’ They all laughed. Complete joke.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Carlos Rodon says it's time to s**t or get off the pot

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Carlos Rodon says it's time to s**t or get off the pot

In a candid interview with Chuck Garfien, White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon talks about the rebuild, his struggles last season, Manny Machado and more.

He explains his troubles from last September (04:04), if he thinks he deserves to be the White Sox Opening Day starter (07:34), why it's time for the White Sox to start winning (08:20), if the White Sox did everything they could to sign Manny Machado (10:32) and more.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Carlos Rodon is ready for White Sox to start winning: 'There's a point in time where it's s**t or get off the pot'

Carlos Rodon is ready for White Sox to start winning: 'There's a point in time where it's s**t or get off the pot'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Even though the White Sox failed in their attempt to sign Manny Machado, spring training goes on.

There’s a season to be played. Machado certainly would have helped in 2019, but as someone who was here before the rebuild began and hopes to play a big role with the White Sox when their contending window opens, Carlos Rodon says it’s time.

It’s time for the White Sox to start winning.

“There’s a point in time where it’s s**t or get off the pot, man. I mean, there’s a point where you’ve got to make a turn,” Rodon said in an interview on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “I’ve been on teams like this before, not in the big leagues, but during my younger baseball career, where they’re OK or weren’t good at all, and there’s a point where the team turned and we became great or just winners. We just came together and it just happened. It’s got to happen soon. We’ve got to start picking up some ground. This is about winning, and I get the whole ‘there’s a process to winning,' and I agree a hundred percent with Rick (Hahn), but it’s time.”

Rodon isn’t promising an AL Central crown in 2019, but if White Sox fans are starting to feel a little itchy after 195 losses in the first two seasons of the rebuild, you’re not alone. Rodon feels your impatience.

The impressive prospects that Hahn and the front office have signed or acquired are starting to find their way to the majors, but is there enough talent in the clubhouse right now to answer Rodon’s hope of turning the corner in 2019?

“These guys are here for a reason, so I believe in every guy beside me in this locker room. I think we have the ability. I’ve always liked being the underdog. I’ve always liked being the guy that has something to prove. It just gives you a little fire,” Rodon said.

For the White Sox to take that next step, several players must start reaching their potential. Rodon includes himself in this category.

Coming back from shoulder surgery last season, Rodon returned in mid-summer and showed flashes of that ace the White Sox envisioned he’d become when they picked him third overall in the 2014 draft.

He combined to go 5-0 with a 1.84 ERA in July and August. What happened in September?

“For a lack of a better term, I s**t my pants. It seems like it always happens. Right in the middle of August and July, I get on a good run and then I s**t my pants,” said Rodon, who went 0-5 with a 9.22 ERA in the final month of the season.

What went wrong?

“I don’t know. I try to do too much. I have stuff that I don’t have to throw that 96 (mph) up there all the time. Just kind of let it work. Something I was working on today just kind of smoothing it out. I try to do more than I should when what I have is already good enough,” said Rodon, who turned 26 in December. “It’s just being young, I guess you could say. Still learning how to pitch.”

Entering his fifth season in the majors and holding the most seniority in the White Sox starting rotation, Rodon could be in line to start for the White Sox on Opening Day. But ask him if he thinks he’ll get the ball when they begin the season March 28 in Kansas City, he gives a very honest answer.

“It would mean a lot, but I feel like I haven’t really deserved it. I haven’t really earned it,” Rodon explained. “But if I am the Opening Day starter, I’ll take it with pride and go out there and compete. I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t feel like I’ve truly earned a top-of-the-rotation kind of guy, but that’s because we have a young rotation and I guess you could say (I have) most of the experience except for Ivan (Nova).”

While many White Sox fans would have loved to have seen Machado in a White Sox uniform on Opening Day, Rodon doesn’t fault the front office in their attempt to sign the All-Star free agent.

“Guys that make it to free agency have been in the big leagues for six years and they’ve earned the right to decide where they want to go. Now granted, I commend Rick, Jerry (Reinsdorf) and Kenny (Williams) and all of the guys in the front office that put in all of the hard work to try to make a run at Machado. They should be able to go home at night and sleep well because they did everything they could. It’s not up to us. The player still has a decision. He has a decision to make and he decided to go a different route and we did everything we could, so there’s nothing you can do about it. Something you move on from and the season continues,” Rodon said.

Do you believe the White Sox did everything they could to get Machado?

“I believe we did. I think we did, so they say. And I’m going to go with that. I trust what they say.”

And trust Rodon when he says it’s time for the White Sox to turn things around. There’s a clubhouse filled with players who feel the same way.

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