MESA, Ariz. — Carlos Rodon, officially the White Sox’ No. 5 starter as of Reynaldo Lopez’ demotion Monday, had been down before.
A shoulder surgery and then Tommy John will do that.
And then he was non-tendered by the Sox after last season.
The feeling of not being wanted kicked Rodon in the rear end.
“There’s definitely motivation there,” he said Tuesday. “I was a little surprised at first, but it was more of a business decision. … I understand that from the club’s perspective. But that doubt, when people doubt you, that’s fine. And maybe that’s not what they were thinking, but for me, I thought that. That was the motivation I had.”
A tweaked delivery — less crossfire and more straightforward — and the use of a core velocity belt helped.
The results in three spring outings, including two starts: Nine innings, no walks no runs, and life on his fastball. All of which makes the Sox coming back to Rodon with a $3 million, one-year offer seem like a good move, at least for now.
“I think they know my ability, though the track record of durability has not been great,” Rodon said. “But they know what I can do when I am healthy. So for them, I guess it was kind of like a low-risk signing, take a shot. And I get that.”
“The stuff’s good,” manager Tony La Russa said. “I’ve just been really impressed with his ability to repeat his delivery. Location of his pitches. Looking forward to sending him out there.”
Starting still in plans for Lopez
It was thought the “loser” in the Rodon/Lopez tussle for the fifth spot in the rotation would be the long man in the bullpen but Lopez will open the season at the team’s alternate training where he’ll be stretched out as a starter. The Sox also have prospects Jimmy Lambert and Jonathan Stiever for rotation depth but manager Tony La Russa said the need for starting depth determined the move.
“We considered it, but we just think there’s going to be a priority for protection starters and it’s much better that Reynaldo is stretching out and if we need him, he can come up and throw 100-something pitches,” La Russa said. “Better use for his talents and our needs.”
The move could open a bullpen job opportunity for Jose Ruiz, Ryan Burr or waiver claim lefty Nik Turley.
‘A pretty cool guy’
Tim Anderson got in front of concerns there would be tension between himself, a new age star of a different era where players are expressing themselves with bat flips and the like, and 76-year-old manager Tony La Russa.
Anderson said getting to know La Russa and vice versa has eased the transition from former manager Rick Renteria.
“You’re going to figure out somebody when you don’t know them and it’s different when you meet them,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of people who don’t like me but they don’t know me. And once you get to know me I think I’m a pretty cool guy.”