How many more blows to a rebuild can the White Sox take?
The latest shot came Thursday, when Opening Day starter Carlos Rodon landed on the 10-day injured list with elbow inflammation. Rodon, 26, viewed as a big piece in the rotation for years to come, will be out much longer than 10 days, perhaps for the season and well into next year if he needs Tommy John surgery, which is feared.
“Unfortunately, at this point everything is on the table,” general manager Rick Hahn said when asked if that possibility exists.
Rodon, whose ERA ballooned to 5.19 after his last two ineffective starts, has an edema in the flexor mass muscle of his left elbow.
“That’s obviously not a good thing,” Hahn said. “Trying to figure out the cause of that is what will dictate the course of action. We don’t have a specific, definitive plan in place today because there will be follow-up studies and consultations with second-opinion doctors.
“He’s going to be down for a while.”
Rodon was resigned to the worst-case scenario.
“If it’s Tommy John, so be it,” he said.
Rodon underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in September 2017.
“It’s super-frustrating,” Rodon said. “It’s something that was not in anyone’s control; it’s no one’s fault. Things like this happen. Second time now something like this happens; there’s not much you can do. You just have to roll with it.’’
For the Sox, “punch in the gut is one of many phrases we’ve been throwing around here over the last few hours,’’ Hahn said. “Due to FCC regulations, I won’t say some of the other ones. Yeah, it’s frustrating. It’s disappointing. At the same time, it’s the by-product of having a significant number of potentially impactful guys.”
Potentially impactful pitchers who had Tommy John surgery include prospects Michael Kopech, Dane Dunning and Zack Burdi, who’s pitching at Class AA Birmingham after having it done. Kopech and Dunning are still at least a season away. Those three would conceivably be in the rotation and closing games (Burdi) now if not for their setbacks.
What’s more, prized $43 million outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez went on the injured list with a high ankle sprain last week.
Rodon, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft, was viewed as the staff ace in the third year of the Sox’ rebuild.
He had a 2.89 ERA in his first five starts and was given six days of rest before his next start against the Tigers on April 26.
In that one, he allowed eight runs and nine hits in three innings. Against the Orioles on Thursday, he allowed three runs in 3‰ innings before manager Rick Renteria pulled him after 89 pitches.
“It’s just been tight over the whole season, but nothing really like yesterday,” Rodon said. “Yesterday kind of got me a little bit. It didn’t really loosen up like it normally does.’’
Hahn said Dylan Covey will take Rodon’s place in the rotation, which had a poor April from top to bottom. Only Manny Banuelos, who made two starts, has an ERA under 5.00 among Sox starters. Top prospect Dylan Cease won’t be rushed from Class AAA Charlotte because of this, and Hahn said he might explore options outside the organization.
A dark day ended brightly with a 6-4 victory against the Red Sox on Nicky Delmonico’s three-run walk-off homer against right-hander Ryan Brasier, the second walk-off in two nights for the Sox (14-15).
“It was huge,’’ said Delmonico, who went deep for the first time this season. “That’s unfortunate with Carlos, but back-to-back walk-off wins, get some momentum, especially against [the defending World Series champs].’’
Lucas Giolito (5.32 ERA) came off the injured list (hamstring) to throw five innings of three-run ball, catcher James McCann also homered and Evan Marshall, Aaron Bummer and Carson Fulmer (1-1) combined for three scoreless innings of relief.