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Erik Johnson figures to enter White Sox’ rotation

BY TONI GINNETTI
For the Sun-Times

Rosters will expand Tuesday, and the White Sox expect to have right-handed pitcher Erik Johnson among their additional players. He’ll be part of the rotation, though where he’ll be slotted hasn’t been decided.

“A starter will be coming up,” manager Robin Ventura said Sunday declining to name Johnson just yet. “There wouldn’t be a reason to recall a starter if he wasn’t going to be used.”

Johnson, 25, appeared in five games last season, going 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA,
18 strikeouts and 15 walks in 23⅔ innings.

As a second-round pick in the 2011 draft, Johnson hasn’t had the meteoric rise of first-round picks Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon. But he is part of the team’s future.

This season at Class AAA Charlotte, he’s 11-8 with a 2.37 ERA, 136 strikeouts and 41 walks in 132⅔ innings.

In the upcoming three-game series in Minnesota, Sale will pitch Tuesday, Rodon on Wednesday and Jeff Samardzija on Thursday.

Rodon rolling

Rookie starter Rodon’s development has been a bright spot in a disappointing season. The lefty bounced back from a difficult July, when he was 1-3 with a 6.57 ERA in five starts, to go 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts in August.

“Early on he was feeling for it,” Ventura said. “There was a lot of hype around him when he came up. Part of it can be unfair at times — anytime he gives up a hit or a run we are going to judge him by that. Guys give up runs, but really what it’s come down to is where he’s at right now.

“When he goes in, he’s trying to win the game. It’s not about showing off his slider and making sure he strikes people out. He’s going out there to win the game. He continues to improve and understand what other teams are trying to do.

“There have been some lineups where he realizes what it takes to get through a game. The Yankee game [July 31, when he allowed eight runs in three innings] taught him a lot, and since then he’s turned the corner as far as going through a lineup and understanding what he needs to do to win the game.”

‘Hawk’ talk returns

Broadcaster Ken Harrelson was back in the booth after missing several days because of illness.

Follow me on Twitter @toniginnetti.