By Bruce Levine-
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — An injury to a key White Sox player has opened up an opportunity for others to seize the moment. Ace left-hander Chris Sale will most likely miss the first couple of weeks in April due to a foot sprain.
This freakish injury for Sale, suffered while moving materials from a truck on Friday, leaves the door wide open for another pitcher to make the rotation out of spring training. Candidates include the team’s most recent first-round pick in the draft, lefty Carlos Rodon.
Originally slated for minor league seasoning, Rodon will get a more intense look by White Sox brass. Chicago must look for a short-term answer to the now paper-thin starting pitching depth at that key spot.
Others vying for a job are Brad Penny, Scott Carroll and Erik Johnson.
Pitching coach Don Cooper wasn’t shy about saying Rodon will get more than a passing look this month.
“The spot is to be announced,” Cooper said. “I will tell you what, expect to see Carlos Rodon in that spot. When injuries like the one Chris is having occurs, one guy’s day is kind of shut down, and now the opportunity is knocking on other people’s door.”
Rodon was expected to get the proper seasoning at Triple-A Charlotte in order be ready by midseason for a call-up. The landscape has changed in just a moment’s notice with the Sale mishap.
“Carlos did not have a spring training start scheduled,” Cooper said. “He wasn’t even set for any split squad games as of yet. Now the door is open for him to start and show everybody what he can do.”
Rodon has only pitched a total of 22 2/3 minor league innings in three brief stops last summer. Working on a change-up to go along with a major league fastball and slider will be the deciding chapter in how soon to advance the 22-year-old pitcher.
The service time issue is still looming over the Rodon promotion timeline as well.
Scott Boras, who represents the pitcher, usually takes his top players to free agency. He does this with purpose, rather than signing lucrative contracts before six complete seasons are in the books. Max Scherzer got an extra $66 million by turning down $144 million from Detroit last spring, getting $210 million in January from the Nationals.
The smart money would have Rodon spend three weeks in the minors. In this circumstance, the White Sox would control his contract a full extra season, before he accrues enough service time to walk.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.