Carlos Rodon doesn’t want rest, but he gets it

SHARE Carlos Rodon doesn’t want rest, but he gets it

Suffice it to say, Carlos Rodon isn’t happy about missing a turn in the White Sox starting rotation.

The rookie lefthander is on a roll, he said his arm feels good and he thrives on competing.

“I don’t really have much say in it, so … whatever they say goes,’’ Rodon said Saturday.

With three weeks left in the season, you can’t blame Rodon wanting to keep on pitching. In his last outing Tuesday, he gave up one run over seven innings, striking out eight and walking one while giving up five hits, so it’s not like Rodon (7-6, 3.94) is gasping for air as he heads toward the finish line. To the contrary, he owns a 1.76 ERA with 41 strikeouts over 41 innings over his last six starts.

Take me out, coach?

“I don’t know if he necessarily needed it,’’ manager Robin Ventura said Saturday. “But with what we have within the rotation [right-hander Erik Johnson getting a look-see as a sixth man], you’re able to give him that break.’’

The third overall pick in the 2014 draft, Rodon is looking the part of the top-tier starter the Sox believed they were getting. Since his first start May 9, Rodon has been given breaks of eight, nine and 10 days between starts. Rodon might start again as soon as Sept. 18 at Cleveland, which would provide a nine-day rest.

He might not like it, but he gets it.

“It’s my first year, my first full season and I totally understand they’re trying to keep me healthy,’’ Rodon said. “I’m on board with that. But at the same time you want to go out there every five days and compete.’’

Rodon, 22, has pitched 125 2/3 innings. Three more starts at four or five days rest, taking him close to 145 innings, seems likely. He threw only 10 innings at AAA Charlotte in April.

At North Carolina State, Rodon pitched once a week. He says he’s now comfortable with his new routine and is used to throwing every five days.

“I feel strong,’’ Rodon said. “I feel like I’m getting stronger.’’

Not only is Rodon adapting to his workload, he’s also learning how to pitch to major league hitters. As pitching coach Don Cooper oftens says, “a year ago Rodon was pitching against Appalachian State, against hitters who were five-foot-six.’’

Now he’s “playing against the best players in the world,’’ Rodon said, “so it would be a learning process for anyone.’’

Rodon is learning to use his premium slider “kind of like three different pitches,’’ he said.

“Show one at like 80-84 [mph], then 86-88 and 89-91. Just varying the speed on it.

I’m trying to slow it down even more. Something that looks way off the fastball, just to get [hitters] way out in front. Then you can speed them up on the slider as well.’’

Rodon sits in the front row of class when Sale, also a lefty, goes to work.

“I just watch,’’ Rodon said. “You watch a guy like Sale, his variance of the fastball. He throws 88 mph fastballs just to get them over. Then he rears back and gets 98 when he wants to. And then he takes something off that. That’s something I’ve taken out of it.’’

Rodon is watching Sale, and the Sox are watching Rodon. With 2016 and beyond the focus in the final weeks of the season, it’s all about keeping him healthy.

So he will take a break.

“You want him to finish strong, and this is a good time to give it to him now that we have enough guys to fill in that slot,’’ Ventura said.

“It’s tough, as a competitor, to sit out a couple rounds and not try to win for your team,’’ Rodon said. “But it’s just for longevity, a longer career. I understand.’’

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.


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