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Covey calls tough season 'learning process'

White Sox Rule 5 Draft pick says stuff's ready, but still working on mental aspect
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Dylan Covey entered the 2017 season with 29 1/3 innings at Double-A representing the highest level of competition in his Minor League career.

But as a Rule 5 selection of the rebuilding White Sox, the 26-year-old right-hander began the campaign as part of the big league squad's starting rotation. It has not been a good year for Covey statistically, who looks overmatched based on his 8.60 ERA over 11 games.

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CHICAGO -- Dylan Covey entered the 2017 season with 29 1/3 innings at Double-A representing the highest level of competition in his Minor League career.

But as a Rule 5 selection of the rebuilding White Sox, the 26-year-old right-hander began the campaign as part of the big league squad's starting rotation. It has not been a good year for Covey statistically, who looks overmatched based on his 8.60 ERA over 11 games.

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It has been an important learning process in the rookie's mind.

"I feel like my stuff is ready," said Covey, who has 27 strikeouts, 19 walks and 17 home runs allowed over 45 innings, after working 4 2/3 innings in the 10-2 doubleheader nightcap loss to Minnesota Monday. "It's just the part of pitching that is mental and kind of the cat and mouse game of pitching, I'm still learning that a little bit. It's just a learning process every time I go out.

"This experience, even with the failure, it's really, really taught me a lot, and I've become a much better pitcher because of it even though results aren't showing here yet. I do think I've gotten much, much, much better."

Video: CWS@TEX: Covey gets DeShields to strand bases loaded

Covey missed just short of three months due to a strained left oblique, returning to the White Sox on Aug. 15. He made two injury rehab appearances at Triple-A Charlotte and noticed a difference in his approach on the mound thanks to the Major League time.

"When I had those couple of outings in Triple-A, I felt so much further along and further ahead than the competition I was facing if that makes sense," Covey said. "The success hasn't really been there, but I know that I have the ability to do it. I just need to pitch my game a little bit better."

Middle or long relief stands as Covey's rule for the rest of the season, which he understands. The 2018 season could mean a return to the Minors, but even if it does, Covey appreciates this opportunity and what he has learned about finding success at this level.

As an example, Covey wants to employ his changeup more within a fastball/cutter/curve current mix.

"I keep saying that but I haven't implemented it yet," Covey said. "I talked to [catcher Kevan Smith] the other day and I was like, 'Hey, man. I need to throw it. Whether I'm throwing it for strikes, throw something slower in there.' But yeah, I'm learning a lot."

Lopez on the mend

Reynaldo Lopez tested his strained back Monday afternoon by playing catch from various distances before the first contest in a straight doubleheader with the Twins. The prized White Sox pitching prospect exited Thursday's game in Texas during the fifth and was placed on the disabled list, but White Sox manager Rick Renteria doesn't expect it to be a much longer stint than the 10 days.

Video: CWS@TEX: Lopez shaken up, leaves the game

"There's nothing that's going to hold this young man back," Renteria said. "The disappointment is more that he can't get back out there every five days right, not in terms of his performance.

"He's done pretty well. It's just that he can't be out there right now. Once he's healed up, he's going to be fine and be out there every five days."

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, Dylan Covey