What should the Sox expect out of De Aza?

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What should the Sox expect out of De Aza?

For some reason, not everyone has been sold on Alejandro De Aza this offseason. That's a head-scratcher, because there wasn't a whole lot else De Aza could've done to prove himself in 2011.

He stayed healthy, coming to the plate over 600 times between Charlotte and Chicago. He posted a .378 OBP with 43 extra-base hits in Triple-A, then had a .400 OBP with 18 extra-base hits in the majors. And De Aza did all of that while playing excellent defense. What more, exactly, could De Aza have done?

The White Sox shouldn't expect to see that .329.400.520 line De Aza had in 2011 repeated in 2012 (if they do, he'll deserve some MVP votes). De Aza had just 171 plate appearances in the majors last year, hardly an ideal sample size. His .404 BABIPstands as unsustainable, too.

But the good news is that even with a regression, De Aza should be a valuable player for the White Sox. A look at what Bill James and Dan Szymborski (ZiPS) project:

Proj.GAVGOBPSLGBBKHRSBCSwOBAOPS James79.291.353.45020435136.350 (wOBA) ZiPS139.271.328.406381008221194 (OPS)
Thoughts:

-- James has De Aza as a backup or a starter who gets hurt. Given his history of injuries and recent status as a fourth outfielder, that's not illogical, although only 79 games would mean De Aza would suffer a serious injury or make multiple trips to the DL.

-- But James has De Aza doing very well for himself in those 79 games, with nearly a 1:2 walk-to-strikeout ratio and a very encouraging OBP. If De Aza can stay healthy and be in the neighborhood of James' numbers, he'll be a fantastic asset for the Sox.

-- Szymborski isn't as high on De Aza as James is, but a .328 OBP may still be the Sox best option to lead off.

-- Szymborski also projects defense and has De Aza as "very good" as a left or right fielder and "average" as a center fielder. "Very good" outfield defense coupled with that line Szymborski projects would equate to nice value for the Sox.

-The caught stealing projections aren't encouraging, but neither appears to be as egregious as Juan Pierre's stolen base mishaps from 2011.

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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