White Sox

White Sox tab Carlos Rodon as Opening Day starter

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AP

White Sox tab Carlos Rodon as Opening Day starter

The first man to throw a pitch for the 2019 Chicago White Sox will be Carlos Rodon.

A little more than a week out from the start of the regular season, manager Rick Renteria announced Monday that Rodon will get the ball for the South Siders when they take on the Kansas City Royals on March 28 in the Show Me State.

Not only will this be the first Opening Day start for the 26-year-old lefty, but it will be the first start he's made in April since 2016. Injuries and the recovery from them have delayed Rodon's season debut until June each of the last two years. The 2019 campaign is a pivotal one for Rodon, who finally enters a season in good health with the chance to show the White Sox he can pitch consistently over the course of an entire season.

And consistency was the issue in 2018. After Rodon returned from shoulder surgery in June, he had stretches where he looked like an ace in the making and stretches where he looked far from someone who could top the White Sox rotation of the future. He had a brilliant two-month stretch in July and August, posting a 1.84 ERA over nine starts. But he finished the season poorly, with a 9.22 ERA in six September starts.

"For a lack of a better term, I s**t my pants," Rodon told Our Chuck Garfien last month. "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."

Rodon has had mixed results this spring. In three outings, he's got a 5.11 ERA with eight strikeouts, four walks and three home runs allowed in 12.1 innings. He made one start against the Royals during the 2018 season, allowing only two runs in six innings despite surrendering five hits and five walks.

As for how the White Sox rotation will stack up after Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and Ivan Nova are locks to make the rotation. The fifth spot is up for grabs but seems likely to go to Ervin Santana, who was signed to a minor league deal early in spring training. General manager Rick Hahn raised the possibility last week that if Santana wins the job but isn't quite ready for the start of the regular season, the White Sox schedule could allow them to only use four starting pitchers for a little while. We'll see if that's how it plays out.

After opening the season with a three-game series over four days in Kansas City, the White Sox travel to Cleveland for two games in three days against the division-rival Indians. The home opener comes April 4 against the visiting Seattle Mariners, the start of a three-game series over the course of four days on the South Side.

Rodon will be the fifth different pitcher to make the Opening Day start for the White Sox in the last five years. James Shields took the ball last year, succeeding Jose Quintana (2017), Chris Sale (2016) and Jeff Samardzija (2015).

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Remember That Guy: Rob Mackowiak

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AP

Remember That Guy: Rob Mackowiak

Not too many players from the Chicagoland area make it to the Majors. Oak Lawn’s Rob Mackowiak did. And he even made his way to the South Side to play for the White Sox.  

After attending South Suburban College in South Holland, he was a 53rd round pick of the Pirates in 1996. That’s something that could never exist today. The MLB Draft capped at 50 rounds in 1998, then lowered again to 40 rounds for 2012.

Mackowiak, primarily an outfielder but also occasionally seeing infield duty, worked his way through the minors from 1996-2001. He suited up for the Lynchburg (VA) Hillcats, the Augusta (GA) GreenJackets, the Altoona (PA) Curve and the Nashville Sounds before debuting for Pittsburgh May 19, 2001 at PNC Park against the Brewers. His first career at-bat a strikeout against Ben Sheets. He collected his first career hit a few days later at Veterans Stadium off the Phillies’ Robert Person. His first home run came May 30th in Pittsburgh off the Marlins’ Braden Looper.

He hit .266 in 83 games in 2001, then hit 16 home runs in his first full season the following year. 2003 started out rough, hitting .183/.280/.256 through 44 games before he was able to find his groove at Triple-A Nashville. When he returned to the Pirates on August 20, he went 4 for 5 with 2 home runs. From that point on, he hit a scorching .348/.400/.609 in 100 plate appearances to finish the season.

He had as good a day as you could possibly imagine on May 28, 2004. Early that morning, his son Garrett was born. Then with the hospital band still on his wrist, he headed to the ballpark for a doubleheader against the Cubs. In Game 1, he hit a walkoff grand slam off Chicago closer Joe Borowski. In Game 2 he came off the bench in the 7th inning and hit a game-tying 2-run home run in the 9th off LaTroy Hawkins. If that wasn’t enough, he came back to terrorize the Cubs once again the next day going 2 for 4 with a home run and 5 RBI. A three-game total of 4 for 10 with a double, 3 home runs and 11 RBI (with a walk). He was named co-NL Player of the Week from May 24-30, sharing the honor with teammate Daryle Ward. He finished the year hitting .246/.319/.420 but racked up career highs in home runs (17) and RBI (75). In 2005, his final season in western Pennsylvania, he rebounded with a .272 average and .337 OBP but took a step back in the power numbers (9 HR, 58 RBI).

In 2006 he joined the White Sox in a deal sending Damaso Marte to the Steel City and hit .290/.365/.404 – career highs in BA and OBP. His first home run in a White Sox uniform was a memorable one. On May 22, 2006 the Oakland Athletics visited US Cellular Field. It was the first time Frank Thomas played a game against his formal team, and the Big Hurt delivered with a pair of home runs. Oakland was poised to win the game with a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. After Jermaine Dye homered to cut the deficit to 4-2, Juan Uribe doubled which caused manager Ken Macha to summon his closer Huston Street. Ozzie Guillen countered by taking down Brian Anderson and sending up Mackowiak, who delivered a pinch hit 2-run homer to knot the game at four. Pablo Ozuna won the game for the Sox in the 10th with a walkoff bunt scoring A.J. Pierzynski from third.

What was a solid hometown run ended at the 2007 trade deadline when the Sox sent Mackowiak to San Diego for reliever Jon Link. He finished the season with the Padres and played 38 games with the Nationals in 2008 before being released in June. He tried to catch on with minor league stints with the Reds, Mets & Indians in 2008-09 but he never made it back to the show.  He did hit .323/.418/.545 with 14 HR in 82 games with the independent Newark Bears to finish 2009.

Rob Mackowiak’s 8-year MLB career featured a respectable .259/.332/.405 slashline with 64 home runs and 286 RBI in 856 games. In 197 games with the White Sox, he hit .285/.360/.411 with 11 HR and 59 RBI. After his baseball career Mackowiak briefly worked as the hitting coach for the Windy City Thunderbolts (Frontier League). Later, he coached his son’s little league teams and worked as an instructor at Elite Baseball Training in Chicago.

A 53rd round pick. An unforgettable introduction to fatherhood. A Chicago Major League homecoming. Rob Mackowiak’s story is a special one.

Lucas Giolito goes to injured list, Sox bring Carson Fulmer and Ryan Cordell up from Triple-A

Lucas Giolito goes to injured list, Sox bring Carson Fulmer and Ryan Cordell up from Triple-A

Lucas Giolito will miss some time after straining his hamstring in Wednesday's game.

The White Sox placed the right-handed starting pitcher on the 10-day injured list ahead of Thursday's series-opener in Detroit. They also brought up relief pitcher Carson Fulmer and outfielder Ryan Cordell to take the roster spots of Giolito and outfielder Daniel Palka, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on Wednesday night.

Giolito exited Wednesday's start after just 2.2 innings after tweaking his hamstring on a third-inning pitch. He was doing quite well in his second start of the season against the Kansas City Royals, with five strikeouts and no hits allowed before his early departure.

Giolito spoke with reporters Thursday morning in Detroit, saying the strain isn't too serious and that he expects to miss just one or two starts.

As for who will start in Giolito's stead, that remains to be seen. His turn in the rotation won't come until Monday's game that begins a series against the Baltimore Orioles. Fulmer arriving from Charlotte, however, points to Manny Banuelos being taken out of the major league bullpen to start in Giolito's place. Banuelos has had success as the White Sox long man so far this season, with a few effective multi-inning outings under his belt. Fulmer hasn't made a start since the White Sox moved him to the Charlotte bullpen last season but could serve as a replacement long man in the short term. This is Fulmer's second call-up this season, he was on the roster for one day earlier this month, pitching three innings of relief against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Meanwhile, Cordell arrives to take the place of Palka, who picked up his first hit of the season Wednesday after starting in a dreadful 0-for-32 slump. He was sent down after the game with the task of figuring things out at the Triple-A level. While the White Sox could have opted to slide Adam Engel into an everyday role in the big league outfield, it appears Cordell might get his shot at more frequent big league playing time. He was in the starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Tigers. Cordell made the Opening Day roster but only got six at-bats (homering in one and doubling in another) and was sent down to receive some more regular playing time, which he might now get in the majors.

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