A day before the Chicago White Sox take to national TV for a game played in a cornfield, the team announced one of their brightest stars this season won't be making the trip.
Carlos Rodón was scheduled to start the Field of Dreams game Thursday night in Iowa. But he'll miss the start now after being placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday with left shoulder fatigue.
"Yesterday, Carlos came in with some arm soreness," White Sox manager Tony La Russa said before Wednesday's game in Minnesota. "The reality is that pitchers' arms get sore. It's a very, extremely violent, sometimes, way to make a living. And you treat the soreness, and when it gets to a point where you think, 'Hey, let's be careful,' and that's where we are.
"We put him on the IL. He's going to rest, get treatment. We're hoping it's just a short break, that he'll be back sooner than later."
Rodón has dealt with a litany of arm and shoulder injuries throughout his career, including one as recently as last year, when he missed the majority of the shortened 60-game campaign with shoulder soreness. This season, pitching at full health, he's finally lived up to the hype of his draft position, the No. 3 overall pick in 2014, with a Cy Young kind of year that's featured a no-hitter and many other dominant displays. He currently boasts a 2.38 ERA that ranks among the top 10 pitchers in the game. His 160 strikeouts are the fifth most in the majors.
Now he's heading back to Chicago to get his shoulder checked out.
"He's headed to Chicago today and will get examined. But him talking about fatigue or soreness, that's enough for us to back off. So he'll get all that done back home, starting today," La Russa said. "It could be fatigue, it could be some soreness there. ... We're careful with this, and we'll give him the time he needs.
"When a pitcher's contribution is his arm, we're going to err on the side of caution. Seems to me (Rodón returning when his 10 days are up on Aug. 18 is) overly optimistic. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, we'll be patient."
Given his injury history, the White Sox and Rodón's top priority all year long has been to keep the left-hander healthy.
Right now, the White Sox are taking the kinds of precautions they took with Rodón during the early portions of the season. The lefty got off to a later start in Cactus League action during spring training, and he performed wonderfully in those exhibition contests. He was given extra rest between starts as often as possible once the regular season started, more often pitching on more than the usual four days' rest than he did on regular rest. Seven times this season he's pitched on seven or more days of rest.
And that extra rest has proven wildly beneficial.
"Since the first day that he signed, that's been our No. 1 priority," La Russa said. "He started a little bit later, didn't follow the exact workload of the other starters. We were careful, gave him extra rest. So it's how we've been since Day 1, and there's nothing unusual about our concern.
"He's getting the same care now he's been getting all along. And he's pitched really well, he's really helped us, he's helped his career, and we'll continue doing everything we can for both those things to happen, continue his career and continue helping us."
The White Sox have gotten this far, out to a gargantuan lead in the American League Central standings, thanks to their dominant starting pitching, of which Rodón has obviously been a featured player. The team has talked about its efforts to make sure those pitchers are rested and strong come October, when they could be leaned on to power a deep playoff run.
Of course, Rodón is a big part of what the White Sox will be able to accomplish between now and whenever their October run comes to an end. They'll need him, making this trip to the IL of obvious note.
"He wasn't happy about it," Rodón's rotation mate Lance Lynn said Wednesday. "The season he's having and stuff like that, he wanted to keep going. I don't think it's going to be anything crazy, but you never know. But he seems to think a little rest will help and he'll be ready to go here in the near future."