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Rodon rides out rocky start in season debut

White Sox lefty works five innings after three-run first
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Four of Carlos Rodon's first five pitches to Brett Gardner ended up out of the strike zone during the Yankees' 12-3 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Rodon threw only 15 strikes among his 37 pitches in that erratic opening frame and walked three in the three-run inning. But when his five-inning stint was done for the night at 94 pitches, six walks, two strikeouts, two hits allowed and no earned runs, the White Sox left-hander simply was glad to be back in the Majors after being sidelined for most of the 2017 season's first three months with left biceps bursitis.

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CHICAGO -- Four of Carlos Rodon's first five pitches to Brett Gardner ended up out of the strike zone during the Yankees' 12-3 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Rodon threw only 15 strikes among his 37 pitches in that erratic opening frame and walked three in the three-run inning. But when his five-inning stint was done for the night at 94 pitches, six walks, two strikeouts, two hits allowed and no earned runs, the White Sox left-hander simply was glad to be back in the Majors after being sidelined for most of the 2017 season's first three months with left biceps bursitis.

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"It was just good to be back on the mound," said the 24-year-old Rodon, who made four Minor League rehab starts before returning against the Yankees. "A little rough in the first and the second.

"Walks didn't help. Good team defense, really, got me through the fifth. I was pretty excited. I was going a little fast in the first, but it was good to be out there. Next time out, it'll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for."

Video: NYY@CWS: Frazier dives to start a DP in the 5th

A little rust had to be expected from Rodon despite the work put in for Triple-A Charlotte, Class A Winston-Salem and in Arizona. The adrenaline rush becomes a little different in the big leagues, facing one of the American League East's top teams.

Although Rodon hoped for better command of his fastball, finishing with 41 strikes among his 94 pitchers, little doubt existed concerning the life in his arm. He fanned Aaron Judge -- who launched his MLB-best 27th homer during a five-run sixth off of Jake Petricka -- with a 95.5 mph four-seamer in the first and reached 96.2 mph that inning.

"Great stuff, great life," Rodon said. "But the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early. That's not what happened. I'll get back to that."

"You could see [catcher Omar Narvaez] going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "[Rodon] has got some tremendous life. He's just trying to harness to the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible."

Video: NYY@CWS: Renteria on Rodon's return, 12-3 loss

With a more set routine in between starts, Rodon will look to find better rhythm and command. He wasn't happy about the loss, but it was better for Rodon to be back on the mound in Chicago than watching from the White Sox facility in Arizona.

"Our hope was he would be efficient enough to get through five innings, which he did," Renteria said. "Again, it started pretty rough in the beginning and then kind of started settling down.

"As he continues to pitch here it's going to continue to get better. Obviously toward the end of last year where he was starting to really kind of get a feel for everything, I think that will come back at some point. But we're just glad he was able to get through five and pitch."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Carlos Rodon