MLB: Chicago White Sox-Media Day

South Side Morning 5: Help is on the way

1. The biggest White Sox news Tuesday wasn’t the team snapping its five game losing streak, but the long awaited return of Carlos Rodon throwing real innings in a professional baseball game.

Sure, it was three innings in High-A against something called the Carolina Mudcats, but 74 days after he was scratched from a spring training start with tightness in his left bicep, Rodon tossed 71 pitches with mostly mixed results — striking out the side in the first inning but ultimately allowing five earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.

The results are ultimately less meaningful than the occasion itself, and there were no signs of any issues during or immediately after the outing.

“I felt good,” Rodon said. “It’s all based on health. I felt good, my arm felt good. I felt strong. It was good to get back out there and pitch again. It’s been a little while. It was fun to compete.”

Having been inactive for the better part of three months, Rodon will likely make several rehab starts before we see him in Chicago, but Tuesday was an important step in that direction. Rodon remains an integral part of the White Sox future, and a few more rehab starts followed by a successful second half of the season will do well toward putting this issue in the past sooner than later.

2. Rodon’s rehab is more about the future than the present, but he’s not alone in seeming closer to a return to action. James Shields also made a rehab start over the weekend, tossing four innings with no issues reported.

For the sake of the White Sox depleted pitching staff, reinforcements are welcomed, and the news that Shields is progressing to the point of a likely return over the next week or two — the fact that David Holmberg remains the fifth starter hints in the direction of him serving as merely a placeholder until Shields comes back — means the White Sox will hopefully get some help for their taxed bullpen in the form of more innings from their starters.

3. The White Sox did win on Tuesday — for only the second time in the last week — and most notable from a 4-2 series opening win over the Rays is Jose Quintana’s return to form … sort of.

Quintana still wasn’t fully himself. He nibbled a bit and struggled to put hitters away, needing 114 pitches to get through 5 1/3 innings. It was clear he still didn’t have a feel for his secondary pitches — 87 of his 114 pitches were fastballs, per Brooks Baseball — and he walked four in the abbreviated start, but he was able to avoid serious damage, as a weak RBI single by Evan Longoria in the first inning was the only tally against him, and he spotted that fastball as well as he has all season.

Quintana still doesn’t look like the pitcher we’ve come to know over the past four seasons, but Tuesday’s start was certainly a positive sign as he looks to rebound from a disastrous first two months of the season.

4. The latest All-Star voting updates were released on Tuesday and the only White Sox player in spitting distance of a fan-voted spot is none other than Avisail Garcia, who ranks fifth among AL outfielders behind Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Michael Brantley, and Mookie Betts.

White Sox players have never been serious contenders for starting spots, but it’s time to start taking Garcia’s All-Star candidacy seriously.

Garcia’s numbers have leveled off a bit since his searing hot start, but we’re now more than one-third through the season and Garcia’s OPS is still .924. And his wRC+of 142 is only behind Judge, Corey Dickerson, the injured Trout, and the equally perplexing Aaron Hicks among qualified AL outfielders.

The first four seasons of Garcia’s career have contaminated any positive feelings I can muster up to the point where it’s still going to take many more moons — maybe years worth of moons — before I’m convinced he’s not going to come plummeting back to earth in devastating fashion. But the stats Garcia has accumulated over the first 56 games of this season are stats he can’t give back. And from the standpoint of just a 2017 All-Star Game selection, that may be more than enough for him to earn a spot.

5. While there’s still no real timetable for the return of bullpen arms Nate Jones, Jake Petricka, and Zach Putnam, and Michael Ynoa joined them on the disabled list Sunday, the White Sox added another willing and maybe able arm in signing veteran reliever Bobby Parnell to a minor league deal.

Parnell was a valuable reliever once upon a time with the Mets, tossing 50-plus innings of above average relief for the Mets from 2011-13. He had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and has tossed all of 30 innings at the major league level since, last appearing in five innings with the Tigers a year ago.

Given the aforementioned injuries and the likelihood that David Robertson is dealt before July 31, Parnell is merely a warm body who can hopefully provide replacement level innings down the road.

Lead Photo Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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