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How Yermin Mercedes helped Carlos Rodón throw a no-hitter originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
White Sox rookie Yermin Mercedes has been a revelation at the plate, but way back in spring training, he helped lay the groundwork for Carlos Rodón to throw the 20th no-hitter in team history.
To set the table, you need to understand Rodón's journey. It started as a first-round, No. 3 overall draft pick in 2014. He's battled through tough injuries, including left shoulder surgery in 2017 and Tommy John surgery in 2019.
Rodón was non-tendered by the White Sox in December 2020, and his future in Chicago was in doubt until he re-signed in late January.
And in a brief, perhaps even fleeting moment against Padres star Manny Machado in spring training 2021, a small move by Mercedes helped reignite Rodón.
"He had a spring training against the Padres in Peoria and he had Mercedes behind the plate," NBC Sports Chicago's Chuck Garfien recalled on "White Sox Postgame Live." "It was a 3-2 count and Mercedes called a fastball, and [Rodón is] like 'hmm, a fastball, 3-2 against Machado... let's see what I have.'
"...and he fired a 97 mph fastball by Manny Machado, and it was at that point he was like you know what, I got it."
Here is that pitch.
After the no-hitter, Rodón pointed to that pitch in his postgame media session with reporters as a turning point.
"I think after that first real start in spring. There were two fastballs I threw to Manny Machado that were pretty hard," Rodón said. "And the respect I have for Manny Machado as a hitter, knowing I could beat him with a fastball, that's where I said, 'Okay, I've got a fastball I can still throw by people.' And that's where my mentality changed."
And it all started with Mercedes calling for the fastball.
"A lot of work, a lot of people and a lot of help went into this," Rodón said in his postgame interview with Jason Benetti. "A lot of work in the offseason. A lot of people still believing in me, and me believing in myself that I could still do it."
Mercedes was one of those believers.
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