By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — It has already been a long spring training for White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon, as he’s been held back from competitive throwing for nearly a month.
On Wednesday, Rodon threw to live hitters for the first time as he works his way toward his first start of the regular season with the team taking a cautious approach. Rodon won’t pitch until Chicago’s fifth or maybe even sixth game of the season, manager Rick Renteria confirmed.
“That is probably accurate based on that we have pushed him back,” Renteria said. “So he will be in the fifth slot.”
The 24-year-old Rodon and the White Sox have been on the same page in planning a good program for 2017. When it was revealed last week that Rodon had arm fatigue issues throughout 2016, the slow roll that has been a part of this spring training made more sense, as some mystery had previously prevailed. There’s no plan to put Rodon on the disabled list to start the year as far as Renteria is concerned.
“That is not something I am anticipating,” Renteria said. “He will pitch again in two days. From that point, we will assess whether he needs one more or gets back on the hill.”
Pitching in extended spring training on April 2 or April 3 would put Rodon on target to throw the fifth or sixth game of the season on April 8 or April 9. Teams often like to build in an extra day of rest before a starter’s first outing of the regular season.
After Wednesday’s live batting practice session, Rodon proclaimed himself ready to ramp up his throwing journey, saying his velocity was almost at 100 percent.
“It was nice to face hitters,” Rodon said. “It felt good, and I threw 20 on, took a break and 20 on again. My arm strength was good. My command was OK.”
Rodon and the White Sox insist because of the length of spring training and his shoulder fatigue of 2016, this is the best plan to attain 200 innings and 32 starts. That Rodon
The White Sox have been efficient in handling their young pitchers since pitching coach Don Cooper arrived to the big league level in 2002, as he works in close conjunction with trainers Herm Schneider and Brian Ball and strength and conditioning coach Allen Thomas. Their previous throwing plans for Rodon have worked in the past two seasons. He went from throwing 139 1/3 innings to 2015 to throwing 165 innings in 2016. The next plateau to attain is the 200-inning mark.
Catcher Geovany Soto worked with Rodon in his rookie season in the latter’s rookie season in 2015 and is now back with the team again.
“I feel like he has matured a lot,” Soto said. “As a pitcher, he has a better understanding of what to do on the big league level. I think he will be a great, great pitcher for years to come. He has a lot of room to grow as well. This should be fun to watch him moving forward.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.