6/8/2014 4:22 P.M. ET
Rodon's college catcher talks top pick's potential
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- As Carlos Rodon's catcher at North Carolina St., Brett Austin has a pretty good vantage point to talk about the White Sox top pick and No. 3 selection overall in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
White Sox fans certainly will like what they read and hear in Austin's assessment.
"Carlos' stuff is as good as it gets," Austin said. "I've caught a lot of good arms before, but Carlos is just a little bit better than everybody. The command struggled a little bit this year, but I think that's an easy fix. I mean, I'm not a pitching coach but I've seen him throw well.
"He's just a bulldog on the mound. That's what makes him successful as well. But his slider is as good as anybody's. He runs it up there sometimes at 90 miles per hour, which is ridiculous, if you ask me. I think his slider is his best pitch. His fastball's not far behind it -- he'll run it up there. I think he hit 101 his sophomore year, but he definitely has the potential to be an everyday starter in the big leagues."
Austin could join Rodon as part of the White Sox, selected by the organization in the fourth round. His praise of Rodon took even one more jump higher from the aforementioned comments.
"I'm going to branch out and say he could be like a Clayton Kershaw one day," Austin said. "It's bold to say, but I've heard someone say he's the best amateur pitcher they've ever seen over the last 20 years. And me catching him for the last three years, I've kind of started to believe that, too."
Dunn discusses downside of full-time DH duties
ANAHEIM -- When Adam Dunn first heard the idea of serving as designated hitter for the White Sox some four years ago, it sounded perfect in theory.
In reality, it wasn't quite such an ideal fit.
"It's awesome, in theory," Dunn said. "When I realized that, 'Wait a minute. So I get to go up and hit four times and do [nothing] else?' Sounds awesome.
"But what's not awesome about it is you have to literally stretch and get ready four or five times. Most of the time, and it's a different kind of tired, you'll be more fatigued and tired DHing then you will playing the field. I don't think there's a lot who will understand that in here. It's just different. It's not as easy and as cool as it sounds."
Due to left ankle inflammation that sent Jose Abreu to the disabled list and the need to get his bat into the lineup at National League ballparks, Dunn has played 18 games at first base and three in left field. Dunn is hitting .277 as a DH, just .175 over 57 at-bats as a first baseman and .182 in 11 at-bats as a left fielder.
Those statistics illustrate the fine tuning performed by Dunn and assistant hitting coach Harold Baines to find a workable DH routine. It's a routine still being refined four years into the job.
"I love having a routine. I don't care what it is. I've always had one," Dunn said. "But a lot of times, you go in there and you feel good so I like hitting and you'll go hit. Then you are fourth up, the inning goes 1-2-3, so now you are like I have to go hit some more.
"By the third or fourth, fifth at-bat, you are just exhausted. Your arms, everything is just gassed. I think less is more actually DHing. It's still kind of a work in progress, but those first couple of years were real tough."
Taking the focus off the at-bats is what appeals to Dunn in playing the field.
"You don't worry about your at-bats. You don't think about them, you don't dissect them," Dunn said. "I never dissected them ever in my life, but you have a significant amount of time to think about, 'Why did I swing at that pitch? Why did I get out on this?' You wait that long and you swing at the first pitch and make an out.
"There's so much more to take your mind off of hitting. I think that's obviously the way to do it. We have a good routine going, me and Harold have a really good one going. So it's not that big of an issue."
Abreu shrugs off four-strikeout night vs. Angels
ANAHEIM -- The only pain Jose Abreu felt Saturday night, aside from the team-wide angst after the Angels rallied for six in the eighth to claim a 6-5 victory, stemmed from a four-strikeout evening.
But the left ankle tendonitis that caused Abreu to miss 14 games while on the disabled list is not a concern. Abreu is running and moving at first without issue and isn't bothered by the brace or orthotics he's wearing to protect the ankle.
"You know what, the equipment that I'm using right now is really good," said Abreu through interpreter and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "It's very comfortable.
"It expands and it's easy to wear and it's holding up pretty good. I think it's been great for me so far."
Manager Robin Ventura gave Abreu a day off Sunday without actually giving him a day off, moving Abreu to designated hitter and putting Paul Konerko at first base. Abreu has hit safely in 12 of his last 16 games with five homers, 12 RBIs and nine runs scored.
As for Saturday's swings and misses, Abreu seems well aware that opposing teams will try to get him to expand the strike zone to retire the slugger.
"Definitely, they are throwing the pitches and I'm not doing my part by swinging at those pitches out of the zone," Abreu said. "Things that are not characteristic of me. But that's what they are doing. The one who has to make adjustments is me.
"Today is a new day and we will try to do anything that we can, not just for me to get hits or whatever but whatever is better for the team. That's the most important thing. These things happen in baseball. Yesterday is over and hey, that was his day yesterday and today is my day and I'm looking forward to today."
Semien plays outfield at Triple-A to build versatility
ANAHEIM -- Marcus Semien played third, shortstop and second during his 43-game stint with the White Sox this season, before being optioned to Triple-A Charlotte to get more at-bats upon Jose Abreu's return from the DL. Semien added another defensive position to his resume Saturday night, when he played left field for the Knights.
While that spot probably won't end up being Semien's full-time position, the more versatile the already versatile Semien can be, the more valuable he becomes at the Major League level.
"The wonderful thing about Marcus is he's so athletic," said White Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing, who worked extensively with Semien. "He can go out there and play second, short and third. So, the more tools you have in the toolbox the better.
"It's such a valuable asset to have a guy like that where you can mix and match all around the field and be so versatile and be very good at every single one of them. It's a manager's luxury to be able to do that."
McEwing speaks as a first-hand authority. Over the course of his nine-year-career, McEwing did everything but pitch and catch.
"You still don't rule out potential to play every day," McEwing said. "It definitely gives you an opportunity to play every day somewhere on the field."
Playing the outfield was recommended to Semien before he left for Charlotte. Manager Robin Ventura liked the fact that Semien was open to the challenge of the new position.
"Where we're sitting right now roster-wise, that's something that could help him be up here," Ventura said. "Every player would rather be in the big leagues instead of sitting down there and not expanding their options and abilities. For him to be up here and help us, it's important for him to at least get out there and try something."
"It will be an adjustment period," McEwing said of Semien in left. "But the more reps you get during batting practice and during the game, the more comfortable you are going to feel."
Third to first
• Abreu appreciated the chance to talk with Albert Pujols during this weekend series. Pujols gave Abreu some important advice during Spring Training, focusing on everything from baseball to handling the language barrier.
"I have to be thankful to him," Abreu said. "He said some really good things to me that I follow and I know that they are helping me and they will continue to help me. So, he's that kind of person. A modest person and a real pro."
• Micah Johnson returned to Triple-A Charlotte's lineup Sunday, with the fleet-footed second baseman coming off the disabled list after being sidelined by a left hamstring issue.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. Joe Popely contributed to this report This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.