Why White Sox’ Carlos Rodón Downplaying All-Star Nod Makes Sense – NBC Chicago
Carlos Rodón downplaying All-Star nod makes total sense originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Carlos Rodón was named to the American League All-Star team.
So why was he talking to us media types like he just heard he needed a root canal?
“Not really. Not really at all,” Rodón said, asked if the major accomplishments of his 2021 season have sunk in yet. “There’s still tomorrow and a whole ‘nother half to be played. It’s weird to talk about this when I’ve got to pitch tomorrow.”
And there, in a nutshell, is the secret to Rodón’s success, to his incredible season of rejuvenation.
“One game at a time” is among the most eyeroll-inducing of baseball cliches. But there’s a reason it’s such a popular one: It tends to work.
And it sure has worked for Rodón, who after years battling significant arm injuries, has finally lived up to the hype of his No. 3 overall draft position, dealing seemingly every time he takes the mound.
He threw a no-hitter in April. And even after a night of celebrating that ridiculous achievement, he was back talking about how he needed to shift his focus to his next start.
Business as usual for Rodón in 2021.
“I think the biggest thing at this level is definitely the mindset,” Rodón said. “Everybody up here is the best in the world, obviously, and if not, they wouldn’t be here. I think what you bring to the table mentally, your mental toughness, your mental focus, is what kind of will set you apart.
“I just try to lock in on that. That’s why my mindset — I know I’m not very open on these questions when I answer them for you guys, but I’m genuinely thinking about tomorrow, how I’m going to attack those guys.”
No matter how he chooses to show or not show his excitement, Rodón is wildly deserving of being an All Star, resurrecting his injury-plagued career to the tune of a 2.31 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 89.2 innings so far this season. Just as it was a jaw-dropping transformation for Lucas Giolito to go from the pitcher with the worst numbers in baseball in 2018 to an All Star in 2019, it’s similarly stunning to see how far Rodón has come since getting non-tendered by the White Sox in December.
“We’re starting to see the Carlos that was drafted third overall. This is what he’s capable of,” White Sox starting pitcher Lance Lynn, also an All Star, said. “You’re happy for a guy that has dealt with injuries to come back and be able to show how good and talented he is.
“He can strike guys out, he has great stuff, great breaking ball with plus velocity. That from the left side is tough to hit, and he’s showing everybody what he’s capable of, for sure.”
Rodón’s own assessment, though, sounded more like he felt he wound up on the AL roster by accident.
“Overall, it’s been pretty good,” he said of his season. “I just want to build off it.”
Rodón has seen how quickly everything can go south, so proceeding hesitantly when it comes to deeming himself “back” is understandable. He’s shown flashes of brilliance before, only for an injury to wipe out months of his career.
“Part of it has to do with the road I went down. Injuries, they definitely humble you,” he said. “When you’re the third overall pick in the draft, you come in with a lot of confidence, and then when you get hurt, it kind of slaps you in the face. It’s definitely humbling.”
There are months remaining in this season, and Rodón is hoping to be healthy and be pitching like he has when the White Sox are playing the most important games of their campaign, in September and October. He’s spent the year talking about how he’ll define success: by a quality season, not a quality start or a quality month or a quality first half.
But hopefully the left-hander takes some time to appreciate his success in Denver, even if just for a night or two.
“Everybody dreams of being an All Star,” he said, “and if you don’t, I don’t know if you’re in the right business.”
On the other hand, maybe he should stick with what got him there: Treating every big outing like he was just forced to eat a plate full of vegetables and directing all his focus to what comes next.