Rodon pleased with fastball command in first outing

White Sox prospect fans 4 in 2 scoreless innings of Spring Training debut

Rodon pleased with fastball command in first outing

PEORIA, Ariz. -- It was just one Cactus League start; just one two-inning effort against the Padres at Peoria Sports Complex under sunny Arizona skies.

But via the 31 pitches thrown by Carlos Rodon Friday afternoon, it was easy to see why the White Sox were thrilled that he dropped to No. 3 in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. It's just as easy to understand why the 22-year-old southpaw is in play to break camp with the team after just 24 1/3 innings of Minor League experience.

As for Rodon, it was business as usual, aside from a case of early jitters.

"A little bit, but they went away real quick," said Rodon, who threw 21 of his 31 pitches for strikes. "After that first pitch, I settled in and felt comfortable. It's just a fun game, fun to be out there again."

Rodon threw primarily fastballs and sliders during his Cactus League debut, where he took the rotation spot of an injured Chris Sale. There was one changeup included, but Rodon threw a few more when he went to the bullpen post-start for 12 more pitches.

All four of his strikeouts were recorded with sliders, with Cameron Maybin and Yonder Alonso swinging in the first and Jedd Gyorko looking to end the frame. Rodon yielded Matt Kemp's two-out single in the opening inning and hit Carlos Quentin on an 0-2 offering, but escaped unscathed by fanning Gyorko on a 2-2 pitch.

Clint Barmes struck out swinging on a slider inside and in the dirt to end the second, following flyouts from Yangervis Solarte and Rymer Liriano. Fastball command has been part of Rodon's focus, and he was pleased with that particular aspect Friday.

"Yeah, it was good," Rodon said. "I didn't really expect anything. Just try to go out there, pound the zone, fastball-slider and felt good."

When asked about the implications coming from every spring start, with Rodon possibly getting a look to break camp in the rotation if Sale is not recovered from an avulsion fracture in his right foot, the even-keeled Rodon pointed to his regular post-start workout as the only upcoming focus. He also praised veteran catcher Geovany Soto for offering words of advice in "just stay relaxed" and "do what you do: it's still baseball" before taking the mound.

"It's nice to have a veteran like that come up to you and calm you down," said Rodon, who struck out 38 and walked 13 over three Minor League stops last season. "We have a great group of guys and that's the way this clubhouse is."

"Now he's going to go back to work, but the first time a guy gets out there and he's in a big league Spring Training, it can affect some guys," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It's good he handled it and handled it well and got out there and threw well."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.