Carlos Rodon set for first Cactus League start
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The first start of the spring has been set for left-hander Carlos Rodon, who seems eager to get started with the business of winning baseball games and proving people wrong.
Nobody expects the White Sox to do much this season, and it’s not hard to understand why. They finished 78-84 last season and lost left-hander Chris Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton in trades that signified the beginning of a rebuild.
Rodon said his goal this season, aside from pitching 200 innings, is to keep things simple.
‘‘If everyone on the team does that, we’re going to be a lot better than you guys think,’’ he said.
‘‘You guys’’ are the media, but Baseball Prospectus, which projects 76 victories, and gambling books — Atlantis has the over/under at 73.5 victories — also see no reason to think the Sox will win.
Some of those embracing the Sox’ rebuild are OK with that because it will bring the team a higher draft pick, but players such as Rodon don’t want to hear it.
‘‘You can say we’re under the radar; I don’t mind that,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ll just make our way to the top.’’
That is exactly what manager Rick Renteria wants to hear.
‘‘I’ve been saying it since the beginning: high bar,’’ Renteria said, raising his right hand as far as he could reach. ‘‘I don’t fear these guys setting a high bar for themselves and possibly not attaining it. I think they’re seeking to attain and reach their goals.
‘‘I know I’m very happy with them; I believe in them. Our charge will be to maneuver through those moments when you have the little dips. . . . They’ll be fine.’’
Rodon threw a side session Friday in advance of his first Cactus League start Sunday. He is taking a slower approach to the season than most but said he expects to be ready to start the fifth game of the regular season. He threw 63 pitches in his last simulated game, so he’s stretched out for Sunday.
‘‘I still had that ‘geek’ when I faced the guys on the back field,’’ Rodon said. ‘‘It will be a little different this time. Get to face a different team.’’
‘‘We’re just looking for him to be in control and command, poised and do what he does,’’ Renteria said.
NOTES: Manager Rick Renteria said he plans to use the designated-hitter spot as a rotating position in the batting order.
‘‘They’re all going to DH,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘I’m going to use that slot to use more guys in the field and give them a breather. But I’m not going to want to use that slot in particular for one guy.’’
• Cody Asche, who didn’t play Friday, was tied for the Cactus League lead with three home runs and eight walks. Asche isn’t on the Sox’ 40-man roster but is bidding to earn an Opening Day roster spot.
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