Manager Tony La Russa and his coaching staff have a few days before they have to make final decisions about the roster for the American League Division Series.
Most of those decisions will be about how many pitchers, and which ones, they decide to take with them to Houston as the series begins Thursday.
Starter Carlos Rodon is one of the pitchers La Russa will have to make a decision about, and La Russa said they will not make a call on Rodon’s status until he has thrown a bullpen session Tuesday.
“He’s like the great unknown,” La Russa said.
Because the division series roster is not due until Thursday morning, La Russa said he plans to wait and see how Rodon feels Wednesday after having thrown the day before.
“[We will] check that out very carefully and fast-forward to when he would go out there and make a determination. But that could be a tough call,” La Russa said.
Rodon went on the 10-day injured list Aug. 11 with shoulder soreness and has continued to deal with that issue since being reactivated Aug. 26. Rodon left his Sept. 20 start against the Tigers after three innings with “general soreness” and threw five innings last Wednesday against the Reds.
There’s also Dallas Keuchel, whose down year has prompted a temporary move to the bullpen. Keuchel pitched in the seventh inning Saturday and allowed three runs on four hits but is still a candidate for the playoff roster.
“I signed over here for a reason and that’s to help this team reach the ultimate goal and that’s the World Series and to bring a title home to Chicago,” Keuchel said Saturday. “So anyway I can help. That’s been no different throughout my career. When October comes, the lights are the brightest and I’m usually there. It’s no different right now.”
La Russa has not decided what mix of pitchers and hitters he plans to use with the 26-man playoff roster. He said the talks with his coaching staff have ranged between carrying 13 to 15 pitchers.
The Sox might err on the side of more arms because of La Russa’s past experiences managing clubs through October.
“Quite often your starters, they’re running out of gas,” he said. “You need to protect it with an extra pitcher, and you sacrifice a position player.”
No time for personal accolades
La Russa laughed off talk of him potentially being named AL manager of the year after piloting his team to a 93-69 finish and its first division crown since 2008.
He instead deferred credit to the players and the team’s coaching staff.
“I walked into a situation that any manager would have paid money to have managed this club,” La Russa said. “So, my first thought has been since that day to now, every day I’m around this club, I was fortunate then and I’m more fortunate every day.”
Abreu under the weather
First baseman Jose Abreu was out of the lineup because La Russa felt he needed a day to rest before the playoffs begin.
“He was hanging. It just doesn’t make sense to push him today. He’s had a hell of a year,” La Russa said. “The bottom line is this is a day to refresh. And oddly enough he agrees.”