So it's a much different situation than last year.
Rodon, 25, is back in Chicago for a couple of days for a checkup with a team doctor and a side session in front of White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper. The left-hander is expected to begin pitching in extended spring training games in Arizona next week.
Rodon is coming back from arthroscopic left shoulder surgery in September. He also began last season on the disabled list, missing nearly the first three months with shoulder and biceps problems. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft went 2-5 with a 4.15 ERA in 12 starts before returning to the DL.
"I kind of know more of a plan now compared to last year," Rodon said before Chicago's 10-0 loss to Houston on Friday night. "I kind of was clueless. You never think surgery is a good thing, but in this case it's not bad at all, considering plan-wise and time-wise, we're a little more set in stone."
Getting Rodon healthy could be a big development for Chicago as it continues to rebuild. He showed glimpses of his considerable potential while making 23 starts in 2015 and 28 two years ago.
Rodon said his shoulder feels normal and it's just a matter of building up strength and getting used to pitching in games. After extended spring training, he is expected to make a handful of rehab starts in the minors beginning at some point in May.
"It's definitely frustrating," Rodon said. "No one likes to be injured, for the team and for the fans. You don't want to be in Arizona when your boys are out here pitching and hitting balls and winning games. Sometimes it's part of the process, as dumb as that sounds. It really is true. It's a different kind of feeling this year knowing moreso what's going on."
The White Sox have another important doctor's visit scheduled for next week when touted prospect Luis Robert comes to town. The Cuban outfielder sprained his left thumb during spring training.
"He's been with [Class A] Winston-Salem just getting acclimated to that team and [manager] Omar Vizquel and the coaches down there," general manager Rick Hahn said. "But he'll come through Chicago some point next week for a routine follow-up with our physician. After which, he'll go back to Arizona and start slowly ramping up baseball activity."
Hahn said right-hander Alec Hansen, another one of Chicago's top minor league prospects, is on a throwing program in Arizona, but isn't quite ready to pitch in extended spring training. Hansen is dealing with a forearm muscle issue similar to something he worked through in high school, according to Hahn.
"Physically or medically there is no concern about this, it's just a matter of getting the thing completely calmed down and then building up for the lost time we've had," Hahn said.