GLENDALE, Ariz. — Southpaw Carlos Rodón made his Giants debut on familiar ground, returning to Camelback Ranch to face the White Sox, his former team, on Thursday afternoon.
Rodón, who spent the first seven years of his career in Chicago before signing a two-year, $44 million contract with San Francisco earlier this month, seemed as advertised, giving up a run on two hits while striking out four of 2 2/3 innings in the Giants’ 9-6 win. The only damage came from a solo shot by Eloy Jiménez, which crushed a misplaced change to center field in the second inning.
“I think he did a great job,” manager Gabe Kapler said of Rodón. “His stuff was as good as we could have expected.”
Rodón admitted it was a little weird going up against his former teammates, but he said he enjoyed the experience, even the constant chirping from his mates in the home dugout. He received a warm ovation from the fans as he walked off the field after completing his 40 pitch outing.
“It was great,” Rodón said. “It was just fun to be back there. Just a little different look for me on the other side.
Rodón peaked at 98 mph with his fastball and flashed his wipeout slider, demonstrating why the Giants believe the 29-year-old veteran can serve as another front-row starter alongside local ace Logan Webb.
“I can see what it’s all about,” receiver Curt Casali said. “Between that fastball and slider combination, it’s legit. It’s probably one of the best – if not the best – left-handed sliders I’ve ever seen. I was excited to see him there. It was kind of fun and a bit awkward for him to play against his boys today. But he competed well. His bike was great. He looks healthy. That’s all you can ask for at this point.
Rodón used his blazing fastball to take out Luis Robert, José Abreu and Tim Anderson, who delivered a first single in the first inning but then went through three straight warm-ups on his second at bat in the third.
“I was joking, but I wasn’t joking, with Tim Anderson there,” Casali said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him pass three consecutive fastballs. This guy is a great hitter. He has one of the best hand-eye coordination around. He’s a perennial batting champion, and the fact that he missed three straight shows how good Carlos was today.
Rodón, the third overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, earned his first career All-Star selection with the White Sox in 2021, when he went 13-5 with a 2.37 ERA in 132 2/ 3 innings and pitched a no-hitter against Cleveland. Still, he has a long injury history and was hampered by left shoulder fatigue last year, which may have factored into Chicago’s decision not to extend Rodón of a qualifying bid. of $18.4 million over one year and instead allow him to walk in free agency. .
“There were discussions,” Rodón said. “It’s hard to leave an organization you’ve played for your whole career. It’s part of the game. It’s part of the business. You move on. I am delighted to be a Giant. It’s a very, very good organization. »
• Shortstop Thairo Estrada returned to the starting lineup for the first time since being hit by a pitch on Saturday and went 2 for 3 with a two-run home run and a stolen base against the White Sox. Estrada’s homer, his first of the spring, nearly cleared the Giants’ bullpen in left field in the fourth.
“What a stallion this guy is,” said Casali.
Estrada, 26, is in contention for a spot as a utility player with the Giants, although he could be in line for a bigger role at second base as Tommy La Stella is unlikely to be ready for the opening day as he continues his re-education from the left. Achilles surgery.
• Infielder Alex Blandino, who is at camp as a non-team guest, continued his strong start in the spring, going 2-for-3 with a two-point shot. Blandino, 29, is now 5 for 7 with three RBIs in three Cactus League games.
“It’s really encouraging, and I think it’s probably especially rewarding for our batting coaches because Alex and our batting coaches have worked so closely together,” Kapler said. “To see him get rewarded even in a spring training game is also encouraging because he can play a role very similar to what Thairo can play if we see that kind of offensive production from him.”
• Receiver Patrick Bailey, ranked eighth Giants prospect by MLB Pipeline, and outfielder Armani Smith also homered.