Chicago White Sox

Carlos Rodon outstanding in 2017 debut as White Sox trounce Angels

Carlos Rodon outstanding in 2017 debut as White Sox trounce Angels

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Carlos Rodon didn’t look like a guy who pitched in his first game of the entire spring on Sunday afternoon.

Rodon allowed a hit and walked one while striking out five batters in four scoreless innings in his 2017 Cactus League debut. Yoan Moncada also homered and doubled twice for the White Sox, who pounded the Los Angeles Angels 11-2 at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

After working on a deliberately slow program, Rodon admitted he’s been antsy to appear in an exhibition game.

“I’ve been sitting here for a while watching everybody else do something,” Rodon said. “I finally get to get out there and compete. So it was fun.

“Just normal. Getting back out there on the mound and facing those guys. Just had a fun time out there and we had some good defense playing behind me today. Hats off to those guys.”

Rodon had some good movement working. He dropped in a pair of offspeed pitches for called third strikes, two of three punch outs. The left-hander’s fastball sat between 90-91 mph in a scoreless first inning.

Rodon -- who threw strikes on 38 of 65 pitches before throwing 10 more in the bullpen -- struck out Mike Trout, Luis Valbuena (twice), Cameron Maybin and Cliff Pennington. He said he used all four of his pitches in the outing.

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“It’s nice to get a sense of where I’m at and just be able to compete out there like I said,” Rodon said. “Build from that. Just try to build that pitch count up and then try to get up and down five or six times next time and then just more command better changeups.”

The White Sox wanted for Rodon to take the slow route this spring. Not only do they want to help him reach the 200-inning mark, they hope he could avoid some of the fatigue Rodon experienced last summer. Despite that fatigue, Rodon returned to action after he sprained his wrist and excelled, posting a 3.11 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings.

“We’re glad he’s out there,” manager Rick Renteria said before the game. “He’s on track and falling into the schedule we had set up at the end.”

Of late, Moncada has been on an impressive pace. Most of his damage Sunday came against the Angels bullpen as he homered off Kirby Yates and hit the first of his doubles against Austin Adams. Through 46 plate appearances, Moncada is slashing .317/.391/.683 with three homers and 13 RBIs.

Fellow prospect Zack Burdi struck out one in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He hasn’t allowed a run in eight of nine appearances and has a 2.70 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 10 innings this spring.

Matt Davidson homered and tripled in four at-bats. Adam Engel went 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Melky Cabrera went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the White Sox, who finished with 14 hits.

Reynaldo Lopez leaves White Sox game with injury

Reynaldo Lopez leaves White Sox game with injury

Reynaldo Lopez's arrival to the South Side has created a spark of excitement in the latter part of the 2017 season, but that excitement may have turned into minor panic from White Sox fans after he was taken out of Thursday's start in Texas with an injury.

The whole scene was a bit odd with manager Rick Renteria and head athletic trainer Herm Schneider going out to the mound to check out Lopez in the fifth inning. Initially Renteria left after a somewhat short conversation with Lopez, but then Jose Abreu signaled for them to come back.

At that point, Lopez was removed from the game. Watch the video above to see the whole sequence.

The White Sox updated Lopez's status shortly after he was pulled from the game.

Lopez finished with 4 1/3 innings pitched and allowed six runs, five earned with six strikeouts, four walks and five hits allowed. Two of the runs were inherited runners that scored when Chris Beck relieved Lopez. Oddly enough, Beck was soon pulled with an injury as well.

Lopez had struck out three in a row after recording the first out of the fifth, but then allowed a walk and a single before being taken out.

Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton talk about Lopez and his injury in the video below:

How Alec Hansen's methodical path through minors has turned him into a top prospect

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Winston-Salem Dash

How Alec Hansen's methodical path through minors has turned him into a top prospect

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — He didn’t totally lose it, but the White Sox intended to restore Alec Hansen’s confidence with a methodical minor league program after drafting the right-hander.

Hansen, 22, admits that a junior season at the University of Oklahoma in which his stock fell sharply when he was moved in and out of the team’s starting rotation was difficult.

Still, the 6-foot-7-inch pitcher never gave in and found a team that believed in him enough to take him in the second round. Fourteen months later, the Single-A Winston-Salem starter feels good enough about his prospects to have recently suggested he thinks he can be a No. 1 or 2 in the majors.

“It’s tough, especially when you work so hard basically your whole life to achieve your goal of being a first-round pick or a top-10 pick and it kind of wastes away throughout the season,” Hansen said. “I think the White Sox had faith in me. They saw what I can do and understood my situation there at OU and took a chance on me and I’m just trying to make sure they get their money’s worth.”

Hansen has been everything the White Sox hoped and more since they selected him with the 49th pick in the 2016 draft. Once viewed as a potential first overall pick, Hansen was viewed as a project by the end of a rough 2016 season. Though he could hit 99 mph on the gun, Hansen’s mechanics were off and he was deemed inconsistent throughout a season in which he posted a 5.40 ERA and walked 39 hitters in 51 2/3 innings for the Sooners.

But the White Sox liked what they saw. Hansen struck out 185 batters in 145 innings at Oklahoma. Their plan for the right-hander included a quick trip to Arizona to work with now-bullpen coach Curt Hasler on mechanics before he’d spend the bulk of the season at Rookie League Great Falls.

“He was a little bit out of whack,” said third-base coach and ex-farm director Nick Capra. “I think confidence played a big part in what he was doing early and to what he’s doing now. He didn’t have the confidence in what he was doing. Once he got into sync with what he was doing with his mechanics it took off on him.”

Hansen said the mechanical adjustments were related to better posture — sometimes he leaned back toward first base in his delivery — and keeping his head still. While he deems the changes as minor, the impact they’ve had on him has been great. After seven innings pitched in Arizona, Hansen moved to Great Falls and struck out 59 batters with only 12 walks in 36 2/3 innings and a 1.23 ERA. That performance earned him a late-season promotion to Kannapolis.

“The difference outing to outing is just mentally,” Hansen said. “It’s just mental and having the confidence and the poise and being relaxed and the right attitude to go out and be successful.”

[RELATED: White Sox Talk Podcast: Alec Hansen wants to be a future ace and don't piss off Dane Dunning]

The White Sox started Hansen at Kannapolis this season and he was dominant again. He produced a 2.48 ERA with 92 strikeouts and only 23 walks in 72 2/3 innings. Hansen — who’s rated the No. 9 prospect in the organization by MLB Pipeline and 10th by Baseball America — has continued to excel since a promotion to Winston-Salem 10 starts ago. He struck out 11 in seven innings on Wednesday night and allowed only a run in seven innings. Hansen is second in the minors this season with 166 strikeouts (he’s walked 43 in 126 innings).

Player development director Chris Getz said Hansen has the stuff to throw his fastball up in the zone and get swings and misses and combines it with good offspeed pitches. Throw in the confidence and Hansen has strong potential.

“Even though he’s a large guy he’s fairly athletic, he can repeat his delivery,” Getz said. “It’s really, with him, it’s staying over the rubber and not rushing out there so his arm can go out on time and on top of the ball. Those are the keys and he’s been able to take to that.”

“Since he’s really gotten into professional baseball and more comfortable with who he is as a pitcher he’s been consistent. We look forward to what else he can bring to the table.”

Hansen does, too.

He insists this belief in himself was never lost because Hansen suspected the consequences of doubt would ruin him. But Hansen didn’t downplay how the uncertainty of his junior season affected his mindset.

Hansen said he’s glad at how he handled the experience and has moved on from the disappointment of dropping 48 places. He's also more than pleased to have found an organization that has the same belief in him that he does.

“It was kind of hard to go through that but it’s over now,” Hansen said. “I believe in myself more than anyone. I think you need to as a professional athlete. If you don’t have confidence then you’re done as an athlete no matter who you are at what level.

“It’s just being more relaxed and comfortable and confidence because the people I’m around have confidence in me.”