GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With four bullpen sessions under his belt including Monday, featuring all fastballs to date, Carlos Rodón is continuing the climb on the recovery trail from Tommy John surgery undergone last May.
It’s a day-to-day process, let alone week-to-week, so it’s difficult for the veteran southpaw to project a 2020 return. But that uncertainty hasn’t shaken Rodón’s faith in the fact that he should remain a part of the rotation upon his comeback.
Rodón spoke passionately and confidently, without a hint of cockiness, when talking to MLB.com about this topic.
“In my heart, I think I’m a starter,” Rodón said. “I’m not a bullpen arm. Yeah, I could throw 100 mph, but I’m not a bullpen arm. I know I can be a starter. I’ve shown it in the past. Yes, I haven’t been as durable as I can be, but people have seen me eat eight, nine innings.
“So, why would you take that away from me when you know I can throw? I know this sounds kind of arrogant, going into the eighth inning, you know I throw 98 mph. I think the White Sox think the same way.”
The first two big league seasons for Rodón featured 54 appearances, with three out of the bullpen during his rookie campaign in 2015. He has not made another relief appearance since and believes it would be difficult to change his role, especially adjusting to a new way of pitching and new relief stress after coming off of Tommy John surgery.
“Fans and sometimes you guys don’t understand the transition from a starter to being in the bullpen. You are like ‘Oh, that’s easier.’ No, it’s not,” Rodón said. “The way you prepare, the way you pitch, it’s totally different.
“You have to look at the stress. You need to be more durable as a reliever. You are throwing 75 appearances. You are throwing back-to-back days. Those guys get up and they throw, and those throws aren’t even accounted for. Those are still stress, though. They are still throwing 95 mph before they go in the game. Then you tell them to sit down and then 'hey, let’s get back up and throw again.'”
“As a starter, everything is mapped out. You know when you are going to throw,” Rodón said. “You have a good idea how much you are going to throw. You have your routine. As a bullpen arm, you have no routine. You have a routine, but it can change from second to second. It’s imperfect.”
Five starters are currently in place for the White Sox, with Michael Kopech on his way back to the Majors through his own post-Tommy John recovery before Rodón. That roster layout doesn’t stop Rodón from pushing toward what he believes is his role.
“This is not a jab at any of my teammates, but I hope to God they know I’m coming. It’s a competition,” Rodón said. “Whoever is best is going to have the job.
“That’s a statement to boost my teammates. I don’t want my job taken away. But just know that I’m right here and I’m going to come back and I’m coming back for my job. I know it’s not going to be handed to me, but I’m coming for it.”
White Sox manager Rick Renteria gave his usual passionate speech prior to the first full-squad workout Monday at Camelback Ranch. As he stated on Sunday, most of the message was kept private.
“It was just like always: winning games,” left fielder Eloy Jiménez said. “If we win games, we can make a spot in the playoffs. That’s the goal, win games.”
“Every year is different. We had a really good talk in there,” Renteria said. “We set basically our parameters, our goals. And we're gonna try and get it done. I always get a little heated, but hopefully it's in a good way. None of us are hedging our bets. Everyone has tremendously high expectations.”
They said it“This kid's a baseball player. He's really a good athlete. He can move around everywhere quite easily and we've all seen it. So, I'm really looking forward to seeing what he's going to be able to do over there.” – Renteria, on Leury García playing at second base.