Rodón nearing Tommy John recovery finish line

July 12th, 2020

CHICAGO -- Saturday’s White Sox intrasquad action marked the first time Carlos Rodón pitched off of the Guaranteed Rate Field mound in game action since May 1, 2019, against the Orioles.

Even facing his teammates, the work felt good for the southpaw and the team’s top pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. Rodón is coming back from Tommy John surgery last May 18, as he moves closer to regular-season ready.

“I need to get up and down a couple of times, try to get to that 90-pitch mark,” Rodón said. “If I can get to that before the season starts, that would be nice.

“As far as stuff, the ball feels like it was coming out good. Today it was a little down, and the last BP it was coming out really well. Hopefully, this next go around next five days I get that recovery I need, and I step on the mound and it’s back.”

Rodón explained the “down” part was related to a little bit of velocity.

“I was just trying to hit spots, try to feel the ball coming out of my hand, get comfortable,” Rodón said. “First game, I didn’t get super excited.”

In the first inning alone, Rodón recorded five outs in one of the cool side benefits of intrasquad action. He struck out two, walked two and gave up the home run to Luis Robert as he tripped coming out of the batter’s box.

Rodón was going to be a second-half addition for the White Sox as he continued his Tommy John rehab. But the 2020 delay due to the coronavirus pandemic has him in position to immediately help for the 60-game season, something he’s been ready to do for a while.

“When I started rehabbing,” Rodón said, “first time against hitters in Arizona, the ball was coming out good, felt sore the next day, and figured out I could come back after that. Live BP and it was like, ‘OK, I can do this still.’”

Kopech gets White Sox support
There was nothing but support from the White Sox for teammate Michael Kopech, after the team announced Friday the hard-throwing right-hander elected not to play for the 2020 season.

“As far as Michael is concerned, he opted out and that’s a personal decision,” said White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing, who has been filling in for manager Rick Renteria since Thursday with Renteria returning to California for a family funeral. “We support him as an organization 100 percent, and we are looking forward to having him back in a White Sox uniform at some point.”

“It’s Michael’s decision and we have no idea what’s going on in his world, and as a team we 100 percent support him,” Rodón said. “It’s a tough loss, a guy who can boost our rotation or wherever he would line up in the row of arms. But looking forward to having him back next year.”

Collins making strides
Zack Collins went deep off of Reynaldo López during Saturday’s intrasquad game, reinforcing the point told by Collins to this week concerning feeling the most prepared he has as a professional. White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino agrees with the assessment from the team’s top pick in the 2016 Draft.

“These last couple weeks, you can really tell that he worked on some stuff,” Menechino said. “Everyone's still getting used to velocity. But he's come a long way, and he's definitely starting to get it and repeat it.

“That's the most important thing, starting to repeat it without thinking about it. He's definitely getting better, and he's starting to realize his keys, he's starting to realize everything that he needs to do. And he's definitely trying to do it now [facing] live pitching. I'm pleased with what Zack's been doing.”

Third to first
• Menechino wasn’t sure how many at-bats Yoán Moncada would need to be ready for the season after returning from his trip to the injured list for unspecified reasons.

"I think 10, 15 at-bats to see where he's at. And then, probably, I'd say 20 at-bats to get him started in the right direction,” Menechino said. “As far as days, I don't know what he's able to do while he's not here.

“Listen, he's a great athlete, and I think it's going to be sooner rather than later for him. Once he sees his teammates playing, he'll want to get in there. And that might not be such a bad thing. If he's in shape and he's ready to handle the workload, I think he'll get in there pretty quick.”

• Gio González and Dane Dunning will start Sunday’s intrasquad game. Lucas Giolito and Jace Fry get the call on Monday.

• The White Sox will move to night games on Wednesday and Thursday for intrasquad action.

They said it
“As a hitting coach, if I have three guys that are hot, I'm ecstatic. But I still have got to worry about the other guys. That's why I'm only happy when I'm [angered] as a hitting coach. I'm never happy. I'm pretty confident in our lineup. And if these guys play together and come out there and rely on each other, I think it's going to be a pretty good lineup. I'm happy with it.” -- Menechino

“I don't know if I think about doing extraordinary things. I just think in terms of doing the best that I can in every aspect of the game, in every play that I'm involved in. And I think that's the reason why I've been able to do very good things. I just try to do my best every time.” -- Robert, through interpreter Billy Russo