Rodon's focus is on getting slider ready

Rodon's focus is on getting slider ready

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The bad news for Carlos Rodon during Cincinnati's 9-7 victory over the White Sox on Saturday afternoon at Camelback Ranch stood as the nine runs on 10 hits allowed over 4 1/3 innings.

But the good news for Rodon -- and yes, there was good news -- comes from this drubbing happening when the statistics don't matter in Cactus League action.

"Stuff-wise, I felt good," said Rodon, who walked two, fanned three and gave up two home runs. "Should have made better pitches, I guess. Started off all right, they hit the ball well, and then I got better in the third and the fourth, and then it all went downhill."

Spring: Tickets | Schedule | More

"Probably the first time all spring he was pretty erratic," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "This is the first one where it's really a stinker, where he goes out there and pitches like that. He still has great stuff and is a competitor and all that. Just not a good day for him."

Rodon has paid special attention to fastball command and his changeup in Arizona, keeping his slider out of the mix, for the most part. The slider already stands as a fairly devastating pitch for Rodon, but he threw 13 or 14 of them Saturday, and recalled just a couple going for strikes, and one swing.

"Didn't really affect them," Rodon said. "They just spit on them and waited for a fastball, and laid off the changeup."

"He'll be all right," said Ventura.

Thursday's off-day marks Rodon's final trip to the mound in Cactus League play in Arizona, as he will pitch on the Minor League side. But the 23-year-old plans to go back to work in his next bullpen session, focusing on the slider, a pitch he featured 30.6 percent of the time in his rookie season, per FanGraphs.

"Now is the time to start getting it going," Rodon said. "Fastball-changeup has gotten a lot better, threw some good ones today. Gained confidence in that. Sinker in is something new, gained confidence in that, too. Now it's putting it all together and getting ready for Oakland.

"Luckily it's Spring Training and I get to go back and work on it before the regular season kicks off. Just got to get that [slider] ready. It was just command of it. Everything was down or arm side or wasn't getting over the top of it."

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