Marilyn Payne

Rodon 'feels strong' in first rehab start

Posted June 6
Updated June 24

— Former NC State and current Chicago White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon's rehab start for the Winston-Salem Dash Tuesday didn't last as long as many innings as his goal was, but the lefty felt that he accomplished what he wanted to.

"It's all based on health," Rodon said Tuesday. It felt good, (my) arm felt good, felt strong. It was good to get back out there and pitch, it's been a little while so it felt good to compete. I felt strong, so that's a plus."

The outing was the first official game for Rodon, who was selected in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft (third overall) and rose quickly to the major leagues, debuting in 2015. The Holly Springs High School alumnus was sidelined at the start of this season with biceps bursitis in his left shoulder shortly after he struck out five over four scoreless innings on March 19 against the Angels, which ended up as his lone Cactus League start. The former Wolfpack ace was poised to be the No. 2 starter behind Jose Quintana for the White Sox (24-31, 4th in AL Central) this season.

Rodon struck out the Carolina Mudcats' side in the first inning, throwing just ten pitches in the frame.

"(I was) a little geeked up to get out there for the first time," Rodon said. "I came out quick and everything felt good out there in that first inning.

"The command was there, I just wish I would've been able to stay steady with that throughout the whole outing. But that's what I'm here for, to work on that."

The final line didn't reflect the dominance of the lefty's first inning. Rodon lasted 3.1 innings, throwing 71 pitches (43 for strikes), facing 16 batters, allowing four hits, five runs (all earned), giving up two walks and striking out six batters.

Rodon gave up his first hit to the lead-off batter in the second inning (2-2 count), then gave up RBI double(2-1 count). Rodon sat down his third batter of the second inning, but Luis Aviles squared up his would-be third strike and sent a homerun off the centerfield wall for two more earned runs. The 24-year-old southpaw struck out his next two batters to end the inning.

"The goal was to get into the fifth inning, but they hit me around a little bit, so good for them," he said. "The goal was to feel healthy throughout the whole thing, get up and down and work on some command stuff."

The Mudcats were back to the top of the order to start the third inning and Rodon walked lead-off batter Corey Ray (3-2). The next batter sent a line-drive to left field, scoring Ray for the fourth run of the day before the outing ended.

Rodon says there is no timetable for his return to the White Sox. He will start again in five days and expects the outing expectation will be to throw five or six innings and a similar number of pitches. Rodon didn't meet the 5.0/75 number in the game, but threw the rest of the pitches in the bullpen after he was pulled off the mound.

"I just know I have another start, I'm sure I have a few more," he said. "I threw a lot of sliders, got some change ups in (in the game). I worked on the change up and down when I came back in the bullpen.

"The things I needed to do, I got them done."

For Rodon, the frustration of the injury is as much in the distance as it is in the time away from the team.

"Injuries are not fun, especially when you're 15,000 miles from your team," he said. "Those guys are out there, they're busting their butts working hard and I'm sitting rehabbing. Days are short for them, days are long for them.

"It's hard being in that position and situation. Now I get to work back and get back up there."

But being back in competition helps negate the frustration.

"It's starting to go away as I'm starting to pitch back in games," he said. "It was nice to be able to come out here and be able to pitch in front of some NC State fans and some family and friends. That was nice for me."

returned from Lexington Tuesday{{/a}} to see his former starter throw less than 24 hours after the end of the season for this year's team.

​"It's good to be here at the Mudcats and see Carlos, (former NC State OF)Jake Fincher, Weston Wilson out there from Clemson (who I recruited) and Corey Ray (who I coached on the USA Team), and Landon Lassiter (UNC)," Avent said.

"It's good to be here, but not good to be in North Carolina."

The Wolfpack head coach saw the start similarly to how the pitcher himself did: a strong start with fleeting command, but health is more important than the final line.

"I thought it was good, the first inning, my gosh," "He did what he needed to do. He needed to go out and pitch, needed to work on his command, especially his fastball command. He hung that slider one time but that's what he's here for -- trying to get his sinker to sink. He knows where he's got to get, but I was glad to see how easy he threw, effortlessly.

"That's why I really wanted to be here. My feedback is going to be: outstanding. I thought he pitched well."

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