MILWAUKEE – Carlos Rodon is something of a perfectionist. Consequently, the White Sox rookie left-hander can be his own worst critic – and his own worst enemy.
“Even throwing on the side, he’s like too hard on himself, judging himself and beating himself up on every pitch,’’ bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen said Monday. “Even the body language is like, man it’s not where I want it to be. We’re trying to get him to be like, ‘once you throw that, that one’s gone. Just make the next one better or where you want it.’ ’’
With stuff like Rodon’s – two variations of a slider and a mid-to-upper 90s fastball displayed during his first major league start against the Reds Saturday – less than perfect will probably do.
“He’s smart enough and he already throws it two different speeds,” Thigpen said. “That nasty one is something else. He’s got that going for himself already.’’
Rodon has been under Thigpen’s watch, pitching out of the bullpen before he got his first assignment as a starter. But he may have pitched himself out of Thiggy’s pen with those two runs allowed over six innings with eight strikeouts and four hits allowed Saturday. He also walked four.
Right-hander Hector Noesi, who would be the man out of the rotation, was available in the bullpen Monday night after he had to come out of a game Saturday when he he took a batted ball off his hip and lower back area. But the Sox won’t expose Rodon to 200 innings in his rookie year, so they have to find a way to start him without burning him out.
“We know where we’d like him to end up [innings-wise],’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “You’re trying to make sure you can stay within in that. There are too many variables right now of who we got, where he’s at, what’s best for him, us, all those things. We continue to discuss that.’’
Rodon could start in Oakland this weekend but Ventura isn’t committing to that just yet. He was hoping for a deep start from Jeff Samardzija to give a recently taxed bullpen – which lost Rodon for at least the time being — a breather.
“Any time you have him on your team it’s a nice problem to have,’’ Ventura said. “He can do a lot of things for you. We all know eventually his starting is going to be happening at some point in the future. Whether it’s now or later, that needs to be discussed and we need to have a definite plan with that.’’
There’s little doubt Rodon has the stuff. And having that good start on his ledger could go a long ways in getting his head right.
“He was pressing and trying to do so much [in spring training and in his first major league outing],’’ Thigpen said. “It was like he was like trying to prove he was worth the first-round pick and that we was worth whatever he got. He’s starting to relax a little more, as far as the atmosphere and everything. Just go out and do your thing.’’