Left-hander Carlos Rodon’s season began on the disabled list, and it ended in an operating room. In between, he looked like the strong, front-line starter the Sox are counting on to fill a top spot in their rotation for years to come.
On Thursday, when general manager Rick Hahn announced that Rodon had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder and will be out six to eight months, the hope remained that Rodon still could be that guy.
But with shoulder issues being what they are, there was no way to get around the uncertainty of who Rodon can be next season, which took some of the feel-good buzz out of Hahn’s season-ending news conference before the team’s final home game of the season.
Rodon had significant bursitis in the shoulder, which necessitated the surgery. He was able to make 12 starts this season.
The good news, Hahn said, is that Rodon, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, is expected to make a full recovery. The debridement procedure was performed by Dr. Neal El Attrache on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
No rotator cuff or labrum damage was found, and the recovery window could have him on the mound at the start of the season, although that is optimistic.
“The timing will depend on how his rehab goes,’’ Hahn said. “We’ll know more about the specifics of the timing when Carlos completes his rehab and begins throwing in spring training.’’
Considering all that Rodon has dealt with this year, having surgery comes as no shock. From the first day of spring training, he was held back from throwing. Both Rodon and the team said he merely was taking a slower approach, comparing it to the way Chris Sale was eased into throwing the previous spring.
Rodon gradually built up his arm strength and made one start, but suffered a setback and opened the season on the DL. He worked his way back over four minor-league rehab starts and made his first start with the Sox on June 18. With the Sox, he finished with a 2-5 record, a 4.15 ERA and career high 9.9 strikeout rate. He was scratched Sept. 8 before his scheduled start against the Indians when he felt discomfort.
The Sox came away from Rodon’s surgery feeling as good as could be expected.
“All things considered, it was as good a result as we could have hoped for knowing that we got to the point where he needed the arthroscopy to determine exactly what was troubling him in the shoulder,’’ Hahn said.
The Sox, who are winding down the first full season of a rebuild, don’t figure to contend next season, either, so not having Rodon pitching at the outset wouldn’t be terribly significant.
But the long-range health of Rodon, who will be 25 in 2018, is the primary concern. He was a leading candidate to be the Opening Day starter next season and is projected as key piece of a future rotation that should include highly regarded prospects Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Michael Kopech.
“I can’t worry about necessarily when he’ll return,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “Now we just have to sit down over the winter and try to figure out who we’re going to plug into that slot.’’
Renteria didn’t appear to be overly worried about Rodon’s health, nor was Hahn, who said Rodon has “a good prognosis going forward, a full and complete recovery to return to the pitcher he was.”
Everyone associated with the Sox probably could be heard saying, “Let’s hope so.”
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.