GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox are sending Carlos Rodon to AAA Charlotte to diversify his arsenal, but the prized lefthander got a jump on that work with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball in the Sox’ 2-1 victory over Los Angeles Dodgers in his final Cactus League game Tuesday.
“I had a real fun spring,” Rodon said after allowing four hits and walking two while striking out two. “I got to spend it in big league camp the whole time, which was exciting. Learned a lot of stuff. Just an overall great experience.”
The White Sox made the official roster move on Rodon Wednesday morning, reassigning him and Jesse Crain to minor-league camp. Crain had a setback in his comeback after triceps surgery and will continue to work his way back.
Rodon, who said he was informed two days ago that he’ll start the season in the minor leagues, will continue to work on his fastball command and changeup at Charlotte. He said he threw 20 changeups of the 90 pitches thrown against the Dodgers. He said he threw “seven or eight sliders, maybe 10.” That’s the pitch the Sox want him to back away from somewhat, to protect his arm and to equip him better for being a starter.
Going heavy on sliders when former college teammate Brett Austin caught him in his nine-strikeout, four inning performance against the Royals last week, Rodon took a different plan to the mound with Geovany Soto behind the plate. The Dodgers lineup included Jimmy Rollins, Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Howie Kendrick and Carl Crawford.
“It was really awesome,” Soto said of Rodon’s changeup. “He’s more of a slider/fastball guy but his changeup was really good. Only one mistake on the homer [to Chris Heisey]. But I thought he was really awesome today.”
You could make a case that Rodon belongs in the rotation now. He heads to AAA Charlotte with a 3.06 spring ERA, 21 strikeouts and five walks over 17 2/3 innings.
“Fastball command got better over spring and now the changeup is getting there,’’ Rodon said.
Rodon thought back to his first outing in the Cactus League, when he faced Padres slugger Matt Kemp. Weeks later, he said he’s getting more comfortable in a major league uniform.
“I used to watch him on TV and you’re on the mound and you’re pitching against him,” Rodon said. “It took a little time to get used to that and now I’m comfortable with it.”
He also showed some moxie by pitching inside to Andre Ethier. A fastball got away and got Ethier on the elbow.
“We were trying to go in there and obviously it wasn’t on purpose,” Rodon said. “I kind of feel bad, he got one in the elbow and that’s where wanted to put, maybe a little lower. It was a two-seam trying to go in and trying to get comfortable with that too.
“You can’t be scared to go in and hit him.”