CHICAGO -- Carlos Rodón understands what Chris Sale was feeling upon his healthy return to the mound for Boston on Saturday afternoon, after last pitching for the Red Sox on Aug. 13, 2019, prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Rodón, who was in the White Sox rotation with Sale from 2015-16, also worked his way back from injuries that caused him to miss significant time -- shoulder surgery in '17 and Tommy John surgery in '19. And the '21 American League Cy Young contender found a renewed appreciation for his craft upon his comeback.
“I know last year, coming back from Tommy John, being away from the game for so long. ... It’s a 15-month recovery, just standing in Sale’s shoes, I’ve been there,” said Rodón, speaking in the White Sox dugout prior to Monday’s series opener against the A’s. “When you first step on that mound, you stop taking it for granted because it will be taken away pretty quickly.
“Tommy John is not that big of a deal, but there are a lot of things that can take you from this game. You appreciate it when you make that first pitch back and that first start back. It was fun to watch Sale get back out there.”
And it won’t be long before Rodón is back out there for the AL Central leaders. He was placed on the injured list retroactive to Aug. 8 with left shoulder fatigue, but is feeling good after throwing on Monday. He knew from the outset the injury wasn’t anything serious, but even with a return target of the series in Toronto (Aug. 23-26), Rodón really is just going day by day.
Through 19 starts and 109 2/3 innings, Rodón has posted a 9-5 record with a 2.38 ERA and has fanned 160 against 30 walks. He threw just 42 1/3 innings over the last two seasons combined, but he made it clear on Monday this trip to the injured list wasn’t planned in order to be fresh in October.
“Just because we have a 10-game lead, it’s not them backing off,” Rodón said. “We come out here every day to win. We are coming out here today to win. Lopey (Reynaldo López) is going to make the next couple of starts for me, whatever it is, he’s there to win. And that’s the goal.
“I guess the good thing from being hurt and having serious injuries, or somewhat serious injuries, is you know what hurt is and you can tell the difference. Today, I felt really good. The MRI came back great, and we are just working toward the next start. I’m telling you, I’m looking forward to making that next start.”
After further review, White Sox manager Tony La Russa admitted Monday he should have challenged the double-play grounder hit by Tim Anderson to end the seventh inning in Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Yankees. Replays appeared to show Yankees first baseman Luke Voit off the base as Anderson hit the bag, a play which could have extended the frame against Stephen Ridings with the White Sox trailing, 3-1.
In another close play, Cèsar Hernández made the second out of the first inning on a bunt attempt. La Russa chose not to challenge that one either, saying postgame he has strong trust in his replay point man, Mike Kashirsky. José Abreu and Eloy Jiménez followed with singles in that opening frame, but the White Sox did not score.
“I blame myself more than I blame Kash because we get into the seventh inning, it's close, that's a good replay. It's a good shot to take,” La Russa said. “But what I said yesterday is what I heard, it was a tie and all that. But watching it, it looks like we would have had a good chance. That would have been a big play.”
La Russa pointed out how 20 seconds to decide on a challenge is a very fast period to make a call.
“Everything I said yesterday is accurate. Kash has a well-earned reputation. He's really, really good,” La Russa said. “This is the first time something like this has come up.
“You have 20 seconds and there have been a couple of times where even though the call wasn't going to be reversed, I thought because of the time and the game and the potential importance, you went ahead and spent it. But not yesterday.”
They said it
“His stuff is back to that first couple of years you saw him here in a White Sox uniform.” -- Rodón, on López
“I would say there is no better manager in Major League Baseball now than Bob, and he proves it year in and year out.” -- La Russa, on A’s manager Bob Melvin