GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech has discovered that a key to his success is finding a healthy way to hurry up and wait.Slow down and be patient, he still tells himself. He uses meditation to keep him grounded and focused on what he can control and not
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech has discovered that a key to his success is finding a healthy way to hurry up and wait.
Slow down and be patient, he still tells himself. He uses meditation to keep him grounded and focused on what he can control and not on what he can't.
"It helps me be relaxed in games and when training comes around," Kopech, 21, said. "It's just something I picked up last year and started doing before every start, and I realized how beneficial it was for me personally, and I kept doing it throughout the offseason."
Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the game's No. 3 right-handed pitching prospect, Kopech threw a bullpen session Tuesday and said he felt good about it despite spiking a few breaking balls near the end of the throwing session. The owner of a 100-mph fastball, Kopech admitted his secondary pitches are a work in progress and improving the pitches will be part of his focus this spring.
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Last season, he struck out 172 over 134 1/3 innings at Triple-A Charlotte and Double-A Birmingham. He is expected to start the year at Triple-A, but he could be in the big leagues this season.
"Last year, I think I was a little too anxious," he said. "In midseason, I ran into a few hiccups, a few speed bumps because of that, just getting a little too far ahead of myself. This year, I'm just going to be patient and take it day by day and let the team do the deciding."
Rodon passes first rehab test
Left-hander Carlos Rodon, who had arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder in September, completed a two-week throwing program, the first step of his rehab, and is proceeding to the next phase.
He was scheduled to throw back-to-back days Thursday for the first time since surgery.
"I know I will be back at some point," Rodon said. "I can't tell you when, but I will be back pitching for my teammates."
Rodon struck out 76 in 69 1/3 innings in 12 starts for the White Sox last season, but he did not take the mound after facing the Rays on Sept. 2.
"So far everything has progressed as we would have hoped," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "In terms of a timing or final endgame, I can't put that out there just yet. It would still be pure speculation other than to tell you we're going to take whatever time is required and err on the side of caution."
Shields sticks with new arm slot
Veteran right-hander James Shields changed his arm angle on the fly last August against the Red Sox at Fenway Park and used it in his final nine starts with moderate success.
He's brought the new arm slot and mechanics with him to Spring Training.
"I got some really good reviews and reactions to it, and the hitters were having a little tougher time with that arm angle, so we'll check it out, see what happens," Shields, 36, said.
Shields posted a 4.31 ERA and allowed a .730 OPS over nine starts and 54 1/3 innings after making the change.
"In the last 10 years, I've been kind of messing around with it, being with guys like Chad Bradford and Randy Choate and watching them throw at that angle," Shields said. "Bradford is more of a knuckle-dragger, he's a submarine guy, but I kind of mess around with it, and I threw it one pitch in Fenway against Boston and it worked out pretty good, so we just decided to do it the rest of the season and it went well."
The veteran's primary goal is staying healthy. He was placed on the disabled list for the first time last year because of a strained right lat.
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.