There are two good things and one bad about where Carlos Rodon is at as he approaches his fifth start of the season Tuesday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
First, the good. Rodon, who missed all but two days of the first three months of the season with a sore shoulder, is feeling healthy. And his stuff, i.e., the premium slider that got him picked third overall in the 2014 draft, was, as he put it, “electric” in his last start.
The bad? It’s the same old bugaboo for the 24-year-old lefty: command — in particular enough to keep his pitch counts low so he can get him through at least six or seven innings per start, not the five he’s averaging through his first four starts.
Of the individual performances that matter most for the Sox this season, Rodon’s is at or near the top. He figures big in the Sox’ rebuilding plan.
Although Rodon (1-3, 5.75 ERA) got strafed for a career-high four homers in his last start Wednesday — 3 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers — he says his shoulder is good, a hurdle he needed to clear from a psychological standpoint as well as a physical one.
“Those first 10 throws, it’s always like, ‘All right, it feels good, let’s go,’ ” he said. “Now it’s getting to the point where I don’t even think about it anymore. Just go out there and compete and not worry about, ‘Hey, did I feel good?’ ”
Rodon said he was pleased with what he took to the mound against the Dodgers last week, even though he struggled at times to command it.
“The one positive thing I can take out of that last start against the Dodgers is that the stuff started coming back, the velocity was there, and things were showing up the way they usually are, back to normal,” he said. “So that’s something I can bring into this start [Tuesday].”
This will be the second start of Rodon’s career against the Cubs, and he hopes it’s as good as the first, when he allowed two hits over six scoreless innings at Wrigley Field on July 10, 2015.
“I always like doing this, man,” he said of coming to Wrigley. “It’s always fun. It’s a fun series we have. It’s a great crowd — here or at our place. It’s electric.”
Upside to Moncada’s numbers
The good news from Yoan Moncada was that he collected his second hit of the season Monday in his fifth game since being called up from Class AAA Charlotte.
The bad? He also struck out four times and is now 2-for-18.
The silver lining? Moncada’s approach has been good, and he has gone deep into counts and avoided, for the most part, swinging at balls out of the strike zone. Seeing that, manager Rick Renteria moved Moncada from sixth in the lineup to second on Monday and said he envisions Moncada batting anywhere from first to sixth.
Moncada, the No. 1 prospect in baseball and the minor league player of the year in 2016, was 4-for-19 with 12 strikeouts in 20 plate appearances after being called up from Class AA to the Boston Red Sox last September, so he’s 6-for-37 as a major-leaguer.
“He handles the bat very well,” Renteria said before the game Monday. “He’s showing he has some plate discipline.”
This and that
The Sox traded Will Lamb, a left-hander at Class AAA Charlotte who also pitched at Class AA Birmingham, to the Colorado Rockies.
• Right-hander Zack Burdi, one of the Sox’ two first-round draft picks, will have Tommy John surgery on Thursday.
• The Sox lead the all-time crosstown series 58-51.
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