By Bruce Levine–
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — After throwing 35 pitches in a side session Friday, all systems are a go for White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon to make his first Cactus League start Sunday against the Angels.
The team has been using a cautious approach in spring training with the 24-year-old Rodon, who suffered from shoulder fatigue last season.
“I am really looking forward to it,” Rodon said. “It will be fun facing big league hitters again.”
The White Sox brain trust devised a plan for Rodon that was much like the one that was used to keep Chris Sale in top form during his White Sox tenure. After a stint on the disabled list for a wrist injury last July, Rodon received an extra day of rest for his first several starts before returning to his regular rotation schedule. That coupled with Rodon’s hard work was instrumental in him finishing the season with nine quality starts in his last 11 outings.
Now set to face opposing teams again, Rodon is ready to get into his usual five-day routine. He’ll throw around 65 or 70 pitches Sunday. Then he’ll make two more Cactus League starts and likely throw in a minor league game on April 2 or April 3 before taking the mound in the regular season on April 8 or April 9.
“When you are on the mound, you’re just grooving,” Rodon said of competitive pitching. “Nothing else is on your mind. We were just pitching today, getting the ball downhill.”
The goal for the White Sox and Rodon is for him to make 32 starts and hit the 200-inning mark this season. With the help of pitching coach Don Cooper, Rodon has begun to develop some tools to complement his wicked slider and the fastball that made him an elite college pitcher.
“I will just show up and pitch,” Rodon said of his 2017 approach. “It is best to keep things simple, I believe if everyone on this team does that, we will be a lot better than you think.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.