Thome's watching White Sox, good friend Konerko

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Thome's watching White Sox, good friend Konerko

Thursday, July 15, 2010
7:42 PM
By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

MINNEAPOLIS Jim Thome was always crystal clear with how thrilled he was to play in Chicago, and seems to prize his three-plus seasons slugging for the White Sox higher than any others. Between his hometown ties and the fact that his former team has soared past his Minnesota Twins in the standings, Thome has been keeping an eye on the Pale Hose.

Thome got in a few words in between Twins batting practice, his daily back maintenance routine and a team meeting before Thursdays game. The DH, hitting .255 with 10 homers and 29 RBI for third-place Minnesota, admitted being impressed with his former team.

Wow, its hard to put together a streak like that a better than .800 stretch for a week or maybe two, not a month or more, Thome said. Its a good group there, and with pitching like theyve been getting, Im not surprised at all theyre playing so well.

Thome took particular interest watching his old White Sox running mate, Paul Konerko, in Tuesdays All-Star Game, even though Konerkos appearance came at the expense of new teammate Justin Morneau-who missed the All-Star Game, as well as tonights series opener, with a concussion.

Paul is so deserving, Thome said through a smile, reminded that Konerko, with four Midsummer Classics in the books, now trails him by just one All-Star appearance. You couldnt have a better teammate or a better friend in this game. I couldnt be happier for him.

Of course, Thome is no doorknob, either. The 39-year-old has slugged his way past Rafael Palmeiro and Twins hero Harmon Killebrew this season, jumping to No. 10 on the all-time list with Mark McGwire clearly in his sights in the second half.

Its the same thing Id say in Chicago, or even before that, Thome said. You see some of the names youre alongside, above or below you, and its just mind-boggling. Ive been so incredibly fortunate in this game.

When asked to take it easy on his former mates tonightThome hit homers vs. the Indians at a slightly higher clip than his career vs. all other teams in spite of slugging in his prime years for ClevelandMr. Incredible just shrugged and grinned.

In other words, brace yourselves, Sox fans.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.

But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.

Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.

“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”

Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.

But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.

“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”

Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.

“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.

He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.

And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’

But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

Preview: White Sox host Yankees tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the New York Yankees tonight, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: James Shields (1-1, 4.26 ERA) vs. Luis Cessa (0-2, 6.57 ERA)

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