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White Sox’ Carlos Rodon eyes return near 2020 All-Star break

“Hopefully we can make a run at something,” said Rodon, the Sox’ Opening Day starter sidelined by Tommy John surgery.

Carlos Rodon throws against the Baltimore Orioles during the first inning on May 1 in Chicago. It was Rodon’s last appearance of the season.
AP

Like right-handers Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning, lefty Carlos Rodon is counting down the days during rehab from Tommy John surgery and looking forward to next season.

That’s when Rodon, the White Sox’ Opening Day starter who had his left elbow fixed in May, should return to bolster the rotation.

While Kopech, who had his surgery in September, is expected to begin spring training without restrictions, Rodon won’t be ready till midseason if all goes well.

“Tentatively I’m thinking, my guess is right around the All-Star break [in July],” Rodon said Tuesday.

While not all Tommy John recipients come back at 100 percent, most do, and that’s what Rodon, who was just getting into full swing after recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery, is banking on. Some are even better velocity-wise than before.

“That’s what they say,” Rodon said. “I’m hoping I come back better, healthier. It’s been a little while since I’ve been healthy. Hopefully after all this, I won’t have anything else — knock on wood — and pitch for another 10 years.”

Rodon, a frequent visitor to the Sox’ clubhouse, said the rehab process is getting “tedious and monotonous.”

“But in October I’ll start throwing,” he said. “Maybe it will be more exciting.”

In the meantime, the July birth of his first child, a daughter, softened the blow of not having baseball.

And thoughts of an improved team in 2020 allow for something to look forward to. Building on a good August with a solid final month of 2019 would be good to see in that regard, Rodon said.

“We had a good little run, then stumbled after the All-Star break,” he said, “but it looks like we’re turning it around a little bit. I’m just hoping for a good, strong finish to kick us off for next year, and hopefully we can make a run at something.”

Perhaps Rodon will join the fray just when the rotation needs a lift.

“You can’t really say when you’re going to be ready; there’s no date on it,” he said. “It just happens.”

Return to left

Eloy Jimenez was back in left field after being limited to designated hitter duty while working through a sore right hip flexor.

Jimenez’s defense needs work, and there’s no better place to get it than on the job, manager Rick Renteria said.

“I need him out there, I need him to play games out there, so he can improve,” Renteria said.

Jimenez made a sliding catch running in and toward the foul line in the Sox’ 3-1 loss to the Twins Tuesday.

“The only way you’re going to get that is with experience out there,” Renteria said.

Confidence in Herrera

Despite being limited to 10 games after the All-Star break last season because of a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot, the Sox signed right-handed reliever Kelvin Herrera to a two-year, $18 million contract that includes a $10 million club option for 2021 with a $1 million buyout. Herrera, who owns a hefty 7.45 ERA, has not been himself except for a couple of brief stretches.

“The injury played a big part of where he’s at,” Renteria said.

Herrera also worked through an oblique strain in late July and early August. Seven of his last eight outings had been scoreless efforts, but he allowed a season-high-tying five runs Aug. 20 at Minnesota. He pitched 1 23 scoreless innings Tuesday,

“Do I feel confident he can turn it around? Yes, I do,” Renteria said. “My expectation is as we finish the season, he’ll put himself back on track.”