This season's moves could top 2004's for White Sox

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This season's moves could top 2004's for White Sox

In the weeks leading up to this season's non-waiver trading deadline, Kenny Williams acquired Kevin Youkilis, Brett Myers and Francisco Liriano for two utility players and four expendable minor-league pitchers. In other words, he addressed three key needs on the White Sox without subtracting much of anything.

When Brent Lillibridge and Eduardo Escobar -- both of whom, it should be noted, we well-liked in the White Sox clubhouse -- are your two biggest losses at the deadline, that's pretty impressive.

In 2004, Williams made a pair of moves that wound up being important for the White Sox World Series run in 2005. Like in 2012, Williams didn't wind up giving up much, although it didn't look like it at the time.

Freddy Garcia and Ben Davis cost the White Sox Jeremy Reed, then a blue-chip outfield prospect, Miguel Olivo, an up-and-coming catcher with great defensive skills, and Michael Morse, a powerful Double-A infielder. At the time, it looked like Seattle had made out well in the deal -- Reed was ranked as Baseball America's preseason No. 25 prospect, while Baseball Prospectus had him at No. 2.

But after playing a full season in 2005, Reed was relegated to a backup role for most of his eight-year career, in which he's posted a .309 OBP at the major-league level. Olivo bounced around and has since landed back with Seattle, but he has a career OBP of just .275. And Morse never broke through with Seattle, but seven years after the trade hit 31 home runs for Washington.

Garcia went on to throw 228 innings with a 3.87 ERA for the 2005 White Sox and compiled 8.4 WAR in 2 12 years with the team. Reed, Olivo and Morse have combined to be worth 9.4 WAR in the eight years since the trade, mainly buoyed by Morse's fantastic 2011 season.

When the White Sox traded for Garcia on June 27, they sat one game back of Minnesota. With Garcia in tow, the Sox went through an up-and-down month and led the division as late as July 24. But on July 25, the wheels began to come off, and by July 31, when the Sox suffered an extra-inning loss to Detroit, they were five games out of first place.

Esteban Loaiza was struggling to tread water in 2004, a year after a brilliant season nearly garnered him the AL Cy Young. Jose Contreras, the most-hyped Cuban pitcher to come to the United States at the time, had a 5.64 ERA in 18 starts with the Yankees.

The White Sox and Yankees swapped struggling starters on July 31. The team was in a much different place than they were on June 27, and hoped newly-accredited Dr. Cooper could fix Contreras' woes.

That didn't happen in 2004, as Contreras limped to the finish with a 5.30 ERA for the White Sox. Loaiza was worse off in New York, though, and was blasted to the tune of an ERA over 8 after his move to the Yankees.

Contreras started off 2005 strong, posting a 3.30 ERA through the end of May. But by the end of July, Contreras' ERA had risen to 4.58. Luckily, the Sox weren't worse off, as they entered August with a seemingly-insurmountable lead in the AL Central.

But as the White Sox struggled and the Indians caught fire, it was Conteras who helped hold things together in the rotation. In his final 11 starts of the season, the White Sox went 10-1, which included three key victories in late September to help hold off Cleveland. When the playoffs began, Contreras anchored a rotation that put together an all-time great postseason performance.

The moves Williams made leading up to the 2004 deadline didn't help the White Sox immediately. It was a year later when they finally paid off in the form of banners, rings, and a massive parade.

In 2012, Williams' moves were designed to pay off immediately. Liriano is a free agent after the season, while Myers and Youkilis both have options for 2013. There exists the possibility that none of those three players return next season.

But if Youkilis, Myers and Liriano help push the White Sox deep into the playoffs this year, it won't matter. And Williams will have pulled off his most successful string of pre-deadline deals in eight years.

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey takes advantage of showcase as White Sox down Indians

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — If Carlos Rodon starts on the disabled list as expected, the White Sox won't turn to any of their vaunted top prospects in the interim.

The news on Rodon has been encouraging so far as no structural damage has been discovered. Still, the White Sox won't clear Rodon until after he receives a second opinion on Monday. While the length of Rodon's absence won't be determined for several days, the White Sox are certain of one route they won't take — they don't want to disrupt the development of their young starting pitchers. Were a DL trip for Rodon necessary, the White Sox would likely select either Saturday's starter, Dylan Covey, or minor leaguer David Holmberg over their top prospects. Covey made a strong impression on Saturday afternoon with 3 2/3 scoreless innings pitched and the White Sox rallied for a 10-7 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark.

"When you have an opportunity to stabilize action or movement for players it serves them better," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "They get a little more comfortable where they're at. They get comfortable with the staffs they're working with and the information they're gathering, being in a routine. It is a little disruptive going from team to team to team. It happens, but it's not the most conducive (to learning)."

The White Sox are all about development this season. Therefore, they have no plans to call upon Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer or Michael Kopech unless they're A) ready and B) throwing every fifth day in Chicago. Renteria's comments Saturday reiterated Rick Hahn's earlier message, saying the club doesn't want to disrupt the development path.

That puts Covey, a Rule 5 draft pick in December, with a decent opportunity to make the club out of camp. Covey commanded the strike zone on Saturday only hours after Renteria said he hoped to see the young right-hander replicate an Arizona Fall League performance that initially warmed the White Sox up to him.

Aside from a two-out walk in his final inning, Covey was sharp the whole way. He allowed three hits and struck out three.

"My last couple of outings I was definitely feeling the stress," Covey said. "I was kind of pitching a little passive, pitching to not make a mistake instead of just going right after guys. So today and yesterday I just thought I'm just going to throw every pitch with conviction and see what happens. I got a lot of weak contact today and some swings and misses, so I felt good."

Covey threw 44 pitches, 27 for strikes. He potentially could stay in Arizona on Thursday and make an additional minor league start to build arm strength, which would get him to roughly 60 pitches before the regular seasons started.

The White Sox don't officially need a fifth starter until April 9 and they're off the following day. That break could allow the White Sox to start Covey as part of a bullpen day. Covey said he recently changed his mindset after lackluster results in relief this spring. The right-hander has a 6.94 ERA this spring in 11 2/3 innings.

"Obviously my last two outings out of the pen I wasn't getting crushed, but I just wasn't commanding the ball or commanding the count as much as I would like to be," Covey said. "The mistakes get hit a little harder when you're falling behind in the count. Today I wanted to have the mindset of attacking hitters, throwing everything down in the zone and going right after them, and it worked out."

The White Sox blasted six home runs in the contest, including a majestic, go-ahead grand slam by first baseman Danny Hayes in the top of the ninth inning. Hayes is hitting .351/.400/.595 with two homers and is tied for the team lead with 13 RBIs this spring. Jose Abreu, Nick Delmonico, Cody Asche, Everth Cabrera and Jacob May also homered for the White Sox. 

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

White Sox: Carlos Rodon feels reassured after clean MRI

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While he still has a second opinion ahead and is likely to start 2017 on the disabled list, a clean MRI has Carlos Rodon feeling relieved after a bizarre Thursday.

The White Sox pitcher described Saturday the strange experience he’s had the past few days dealing with soreness in his left bicep.

In the span of 48 hours, Rodon -- who will receive a second opinion on Monday -- went from feeling good enough after a midweek bullpen session to request that his first start be moved up to likely landing on the DL. As he prepares to navigate the rehab process, Rodon is more at ease after an MRI on Friday showed no structural damage.

“(Thursday) was a weird day for me,” Rodon said. “I wasn’t very happy with it. I got that checked out, trying to figure it out.

“I feel better. It’s reassuring.”

“(Your arm is) your tool. It’s concerning. But that’s why you go get those things checked out and make sure everything is ok. That’s what we did.”

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Rodon, who went 9-10 with a 4.04 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 165 innings in 2016, has one more checkup before he’s all clear. He travels to Los Angeles on Monday for an appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. General manager Rick Hahn said Friday that a second opinion is “protocol.”

Though he has already been reassured -- the club’s diagnosis was he had no structural issues after a physical exam and then the clean MRI -- Rodon wouldn’t mind more confirmation. The left-hander said he hadn’t experienced the kind of tightness he suddenly felt in his biceps tendon before Thursday. He could lift his arm above his head, but Rodon said his stuff wasn’t the same. After he informed them, the White Sox determined to be cautious.

“It’s pretty tight up there,” Rodon said. “I’ve never really been that tight. I couldn’t really step on some balls I wanted to throw to get that arm going. So, I had to get it checked out. It didn’t feel too good.”

The White Sox already had Rodon on a delayed schedule where he needed to hit every mark to be ready for the regular season. They did so in hopes of helping him avoid the fatigue he experienced last summer and also reaching the 200-inning mark this season. Now it appears Rodon will begin the season on the DL, according to Hahn.

Though he’d like to start the season on schedule, Rodon wants to make sure he’s physically good to go.

“Just trying to be healthy man,” Rodon said. “You don’t want to go the start of the season and be behind the best guys. You are a tick down from the best guys in the world. It’s not fun pitching when you are not feeling too good. I want to be 100 percent when I’m out there. That gives our team the best chance of winning.”