Rodon: Spring big for comfort level facing big leaguers

Rodon: Spring big for comfort level facing big leaguers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carlos Rodon threw 90 pitches in his final Cactus League start during Tuesday's 2-1 victory over the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. Twenty of those pitchers were changeups, with the standout southpaw guessing that only nine or 10 were sliders.

It's a big difference from the 28 sliders Rodon threw during his nine-strikeout dominance last Wednesday against the Royals.

"We featured a lot of changeups today, so fastball/changeup mostly. Felt comfortable," said Rodon, who allowed one run, on a Chris Heisey homer, over 5 1/3 innings, striking out two and walking two. "Just one, it wasn't a horrible pitch, but a little up early in the count. He hit it good. Hit it far, that's for sure.

"Got more comfortable with the changeup. Threw a lot of fastballs. Fell behind early on and had to fight back into the counts. Got some ground balls, defense made some great plays. Threw well I guess."

Over six Cactus League games, five of which were starts, the White Sox top prospect, per MLB.com, allowed 17 hits and six earned runs over 17 2/3 innings. Heisey's homer was the first given up by Rodon, who struck out 21, walked five and hit three. Rodon hit Andre Ethier in the right arm Tuesday and caused the outfielder to leave the game in the second, which was an unintentional by-product of Rodon trying to work inside.

"You can't be scared to go in and hit him," Rodon said. "I kind of feel bad. He got one in the elbow, and that's in where we wanted to put it, maybe a little lower."

Rodon feels as if he became more comfortable as a Major League pitcher from his first start on March 6 against the Padres to Tuesday. His next stop is Triple-A Charlotte, with the White Sox standing as a near destination.

"I'll tell you what, the first guy I faced really hit me when I was up there against the Padres, it was [Matt Kemp]," Rodon said. "I used to watch him on TV, and you're on the mound and you're pitching against him.

"It took a little time to get used to that, and now I'm comfortable with it. That's one big thing. Fastball command got better over the spring, and now the changeup is getting there."

Kyle Drabek made his White Sox debut in Tuesday's contest, allowing two hits over 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He's hoping to be part of the Opening Day White Sox bullpen after being claimed off waivers from Toronto.

"I've made Opening Day once, and it is something you don't get many chances at," Drabek said. "It's amazing, and I would obviously love to be out there."

• Geovany Soto, who will serve as the backup catcher to Tyler Flowers at the season's outset, exits camp feeling strong physically. His throwing arm certainly looked good Tuesday, nailing three would-be Dodgers basestealers.

"It has been coming for a couple of years now that I've been really working on my mechanics and the throws to second, just to be short and as quick as I can," Soto said. "Not move my head. Just mechanical stuff I've been working for the last couple of years."

Nate Jones remains on schedule to throw his first bullpen session off the mound on Wednesday. Jones is rehabbing his way back from Tommy John Surgery on July 29 of last season.

• There are no problems with the right foot of Chris Sale, who will throw six innings/90 pitches during a Minor League game Wednesday at Camelback Ranch.

"The foot's not holding him back," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He's able to get over and cover and do those things. Now it's just building up that arm strength to make sure he's not doing anything mechanically that would make you uncomfortable."

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.