KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Left-hander Carlos Rodon will miss his regular turn in the White Sox starting rotation in the upcoming series at Oakland because of ongoing shoulder soreness and fatigue. The Sox are hope Rodon can pitch next weekend.
Rodon pitched five innings in each of his two most recent starts after being on the injured list from Aug. 8-26 with shoulder fatigue.
“It’s not a decision that you like making,” La Russa said. “We like him pitching but he’s still not experiencing the good feeling, whether it’s fatigue and a little sore. But right now we’re hoping he can pitch against the Red Sox [next] weekend. But there are no guarantees.”
Rodon, 28, who made the All-Star team for the first time and enjoyed the best first half of his career, was limited to 67 and 77 pitches in his two starts against the Cubs and Pirates since coming off the IL. He allowed one run on five hits and one walk while striking out five in a victory against the Pirates Wednesay at Guaranteed Rate Field, lowering his ERA to 2.41.
“Slightly building back, getting ready for the next start, that’s it,” Rodon explained after his outing came to a halt after five innings. “It’s September. Just go out there and pitch.”
“Tired, sore. You know, there is a combination there, not just fatigue,” La Russa said Sunday. “He’s got some soreness to him.”
With trainer James Kruk watching, Rodon played catch in the outfield before the Sox played the Royals Sunday. But his slow-roll return to peak form is the latest worrisome development for a rotation that is the backbone of a team enjoying a 10 1/2 game lead in the AL Central. Opening Day starter Lucas Giolito is on the injured list with a strained hamstring and All-Star Lance Lynn is on the IL with knee soreness. Dallas Keuchel is healthy but is 2-5 with a 7.26 ERA in his last 11 starts.
After getting 12 days off around the All-Star break and not pitching in the All-Star Game, Rodon had rests of five, four and eight days coming out of the break before going on the IL. He had five days between his last two starts.
“We’ve really been careful with him,” La Russa said.
“When he doesn’t feel right it’s impossible to push it. You don’t even dare, even think of that. We do miss him in the rotation and right now hopefully he can pitch against the Red Sox next weekend.
“The smart thing is to be concerned. You don’t want to think it’s a rainbow all the time and get splashed. I didn’t really think it was that bad.”
Rodon had shoulder surgery in September 2017 and Tommy John surgery in May 2019. His average four-seam fastball velocity (93.3 mph) in his last start was about two mph lower than what he averaged for most of the season.
“There’s been a number of times in games where we’ve taken him out and he says, ‘I’ve got more,’ and I said, ‘No, that’s enough,’ ” La Russa said. “That’s what’s concerning, that all this should add up to where right now he would be in peak form. You have to face the reality. He wants to be out there and he doesn’t feel it.
“But we are optimistic. If we just get smart and back off, he’ll pitch for us.”
After an off day Monday, the Sox play the A’s on Tuesday (starter TBA), Wednesday (Keuchel) and Thursday (Reynaldo Lopez).
When Rodon pitches next and how effective he will be bears watching.
“Maybe it will be next week,” La Russa said. “We are going to try our best.”