Williams, White Sox liking their chances

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Williams, White Sox liking their chances

Despite dropping four straight series, the White Sox entered Monday's BP Crosstown Cup matchup with the Cubs in first place, a game and a half ahead of Cleveland and three games ahead of Detroit. It's been a good-news-bad-news run in the last dozen games, plenty of which the Sox have dropped by only a run or two.

"We wasted games over the last week, week and a half," general manager Kenny Williams said prior to Monday's game. "And it's unfortunate because it came at a time we could have created distance between ourselves and the clubs behind us. It is what it is and it's part of the grind and you're going to have these stretches. But that's the bad news, that we had an opportunity to stretch out our lead. The good news is we've been in every game, we've been leading some of those games. We're still in position and still feel like we're a good club that can continue to grind it out and contend for the season."

Taking a step back, that the bad news is the White Sox didn't stretch their lead atop the AL Central isn't the worst news ever. Three months ago, no prognosticator expected the White Sox to be in first place, and many didn't even think they'd be in contention at this point. By the All-Star break, they'd look to sell.

Instead, the Sox are looking for ways to improve the club as late June approaches. And while Williams reiterated he does have restrictions on who he can add, the fact that the Sox are in a position to add players is probably shocking enough to those who pegged the Sox for dead last in the division.

"It's nice we're in it and we're competing. It's still kind of early, but it's starting to get to that midpoint," said first baseman Paul Konerko. "You just have to try to mentally prepare for that and don't kill yourself every night if we don't win, but at the same time you realize how important every game is, too. So balancing those things out is the hard part. We didn't play terrible on that road trip, but obviously it wasn't a good road trip wins and losses, but we just have shake that off and come out tonight strong."

The six-game road trip saw plenty of good pitching, be it from Jose Quintana, Jake Peavy or the bullpen. But the struggles of Gavin Floyd and Philip Humber continued, although Wiliams isn't planning on ditching either pitcher any time soon.

"We keep waiting and we see little things that are signs of progress," Williams explained. "Then you'll see the little blip on the radar here and there. We look at it optimistically. The great thing is we've been able to bring some of these young guys, whether it be in the bullpen, or in the case of Quintana, into the mix and he's performed great. We continue to allow ourselves the best opportunity by putting the quality starters out there."

Quintana's outstanding job filling in for John Danks hasn't gone unnoticed. Manager Robin Ventura said Monday the 23-year-old lefty "isn't going anywhere" and Williams sees Quintana's success keeping up long-term.

"Take a look at the teams he's pitched against," Williams said. "Maybe you could still guess about it if he hadn't pitched against some of the teams he has. But he's been on the stage, and he's had to produce, and he's come through. I don't see why there's any reason he can't keep this up."

The Sox don't quite know when they'll get Danks back, as the lefty underwent an MRI Monday, the results of which weren't known before the game. Williams expects Danks make an impact when he re-joins the rotation, but he also knows he and the coaching staff need to be calculated in their roster and role decisions when Danks comes back.

"No matter if they were here or not, we're still going to look at potential places where we can improve the club," Williams said, also referring to injured third baseman Brent Morel. "But you've got to be careful with that, because once guys start to believe in themselves as a unityou've got to be careful to disrupt that chemistry.

"Right now, it's pretty good."

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.”