DENVER — White Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz propped his phone against his bed so left-hander Carlos Rodón could see his feet and the adjustment he wanted the left-hander to make.
It was the offseason, with a pandemic still raging across the country. So, they had to make do with the resources they had. Rodón had never talked to Katz before, but he trusted the new hire’s evaluation.
“Cause it made sense,” Rodón said. “I knew there was a change I needed to make. I was kind of a crossfire guy, and I wanted to get away from that. These changes in the lower half got me away from that. That’s why I knew it was going to work.”
Fast forward several months, and Rodón is a first-time All-Star. He was one of three White Sox pitchers on American League All-Star squad, along with Lance Lynn and Liam Hendriks. Rodón didn’t get in the game Tuesday, but Lynn and Hendriks each pitched a scoreless inning in the American League’s 5-2 win over the National League. Hendriks earned the save.
The White Sox’ strong presence on the All-Star staff reflected a couple win-now moves the White Sox made this winter – trading for Lynn and signing Hendriks as a free agent.
It also reflected Katz’s influence.
“Without a doubt,” Hendriks said “He’s very good at meshing the new age with the old school. There were a couple times early in the year where I was going through some mechanical stuff, and then I was overthrowing my breaking ball last week, actually. And he just pulled up video and was like, ‘OK, here it is. This is what’s different. Just stop doing that.’
“And that’s the way I need to learn. And him figuring that out so quickly with me has been huge. I don’t need someone constantly tinkering and meddling and doing this.”
Katz – or as Hendriks calls him, “kitty Katz” or “pitchy coachy” – is good at judging how much oversight each player needs, the closer said.
Katz came into the White Sox organization with right-hander Lucas Giolito’s endorsement. Katz coached Gioloto in high school.
Pretty quickly, Katz earned Rodón’s endorsement as well.
“He has a lot to do with the success, for sure,” Rodón said.
Guidance over FaceTime eventually turned into in-person workouts with the core velocity belt before spring training. Rodón’s old mechanics made him “calf-dominant,” and he was losing power and command. Katz helped him find both.
“I’ve never been an All-Star before,” Rodón said with a chuckle, “so I think it’s helped.”