Sox plan start to determine Carlos Rodón's playoff readiness

/ by Vinnie Duber
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

DETROIT — The Chicago White Sox are still concerned.

They have no choice after what they saw from Carlos Rodón on Monday night, a pitcher who lost command, lost velocity and came back to the dugout after three innings talking about how he didn't feel right.

It might not end up the worst-case scenario some White Sox fans were perhaps bracing for, manager Tony La Russa saying Tuesday that the team will do all the work it can to get Rodón ready to make one final start before the regular season ends. That's scheduled for Wednesday's game on the South Side against the Cincinnati Reds, though the plans for the rotation could be impacted by rainy Midwestern weather.

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"We're going to do some stuff with the idea of getting him ready for the (Wednesday) game against Cincinnati," La Russa said before Tuesday's game. "Hopefully it's just normal soreness, and we'll do a bunch of stuff to get him ready and keep our fingers crossed that (Wednesday) he's good to go."

That start will be an important one, telling the White Sox if there's any reason their concern should extend to Rodón's postseason readiness.

"That's why he needs to go on the mound, just to evaluate that," La Russa said. "We're assuming he can make one of the spots (in the playoff rotation), but yesterday was not a good day. So he's got another shot next (Wednesday), so we'll see if there's a better result so we can be more optimistic."


That was the biggest headline out of Monday night's loss to the Detroit Tigers, how the continued soreness Rodón seems to be experiencing in his shoulder could blast a hole in the White Sox rotation come October.

Starting pitching, often dominant, is what got the White Sox this far and figures to be their biggest strength in the playoffs. Rodón's been a huge part of that starting-pitching success, and to suddenly be without him — or to have him limited in any capacity — would obviously impact the team's chase for a World Series championship.

La Russa stuck to the same tone of concern he used Monday night, which was dramatically different from Rodón's own postgame comments. The left-hander called the soreness "normal" and "nothing crazy." He's been dealing with it throughout the second half, the White Sox once putting him on the injured list and at other times extending his time between starts.

They've been doing that all year long, ever since the spring, attempting to maximize Rodón's effectiveness and availability as he comes off season after season of significant arm injuries. This is the biggest workload he's handled in a while, and in the early going this season, he was placing an emphasis on his ability to stay healthy when it came to his 2021 goals.

"We're definitely concerned," La Russa said Tuesday. "On normal rest, he would pitch with four days' (rest). He's not doing that. He's getting twice that much.

"We've got a pattern we've established all year long to give him extra rest, and it's really worked. He's taken the extra time to stay sharp and stay strong. That's why yesterday was a disappointment. He made a lot of pitches, he made 60-some pitches ... through the third inning. When you lack overall command, it explains part of why it was such an effort."

In the past, he's expressed frustration over his health being such a dominant talking point. Now, with his career year nearing its end and his team readying for what it hopes is a lengthy playoff run, it's a dominant talking point once more.

The White Sox will use one more regular-season outing to determine just how dominant it will be come October.

"We're not assuming anything," La Russa said. "Just try to do as much as you can and be optimistic it will work out.

"If not, we'll make an adjustment."

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