White Sox have been feeling the Royal Pains

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White Sox have been feeling the Royal Pains

Once upon a time, the Los Angeles Dodgers had Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. The Atlanta Braves had Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
Well, look out world. The Kansas City Royals now have their own vaunted 1-2 pitching combo:
Bruce Chen and Jeremy Guthrie.
For two nights, these journeymen pitchers threw kryptonite at the White Sox, who mustered just two measly runs against the Royals dynamic duo in 14.2 innings.
For Chen, it was his first win since June 26. For Guthrie, his first victory since May 31.
Youre wondering why that White Sox fan showed up to work today with all those cuts and bruises? He spent most of the night banging his head against the wall.
Chen was good, but Guthrie was great -- maybe the greatest of his major league career. Seriously. He was one inning away from his very first shutout, in his 173rd major league start, the fourth longest drought for a pitcher in major league history.
That, arguably, could be the best-pitched game weve had all year, said manager Ned Yost, whose team has the sixth highest ERA in the majors.
We knew his numbers dont reflect the kind of pitcher that he is, Adam Dunn said. Youre not going to talk to anyone who knows baseball that says he doesnt have good stuff. Hes got great stuff. Usually it seems like youre going to get a pitch or two to hit, and tonight when we did, we didnt do anything with them.
So how did Guthrie celebrate after his eight scoreless innings? This little soak in the tub.
I wonder if Alexei Ramirez threw a party of his own. Hes 1-for-22 in his career against Guthrie. Hes also 1-for-22 against Chen. Who cant wait to see former Sox pitcher Brandon McCarthy pitch against them on Friday? Ramirez.
The Royals took two-of-three from the White Sox, who have got to find a way to beat this pesky last-place team. They still have nine more games against them, including next week in Kansas City. It was the first series the White Sox had lost at home since the Cubs won two-of-three at U.S. Cellular Field in the third week of June.
But if we have learned anything about this White Sox team its the word reliever Matt Thornton provided when I asked him what the key to their success has been.
Resiliency.
Theres no give with us. Thats what youve seen with us all year long, Thornton said. Even if we lose three, four, five games in a row, we bounce back, and keep getting back up.
Which has stunned every expert who predictedArmageddonon the South Side, a season with over 90 losses and a last-place finish in the AL Central. Instead, the White Sox have been in first place for 70 days, while the Tigers, who everyone (including me) thought would run away with the division, have been in first for just 24 days.
We better get real cold for them to look good, Thornton said about the experts. They have to make their preseason predictions for everything. They backfire all the time. Being an athlete, I dont really throw too many predictions out there. Were proof that the experts dont always exactly know what theyre talking about all the time.
But Thornton, an avid football fan and one of the White Sox in-house NFL experts, did made this prediction about the upcoming season:
I have the Houston Texans winning the Super Bowl this year...and Im a Lions fan.
Once upon a time, Thornton, a Michigan native, was also a Tigers fan. Somewhere inside ashoe boxor family album likely exists a photo of Matt as a child fitted in Tigers garb from head-to-toe.
But times have obviously changed.
My immediate family now is of course Sox fans," Thornton said. "They have been since the day I got over here, but I do have a lot of friends from high school and college that say, Were pulling for the Tigers, we want you to do well when youre in the game, but we want you guys to lose.
Now with 52 games remaining, the battle lines have been drawn. Its a two-team race between the White Sox and Tigers for the division title.
It has nothing to do with me growing up being a Tigers fan, Thornton said. Its a fact that thats a great team over there. Were proving to be a great team too. Weve been here all year. We have guys having great years, bouncing back from bad years last year, everyone is doing their part to win ballgames. With the mix that we have here, its going to be a fun last month and a half.

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

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USA TODAY

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.”