A slimmed-down Lucas Giolito is focused on a bounce-back season — not his contract status — with the Chicago White Sox
Lucas Giolito is in a contract year.
It’s a situation the Chicago White Sox starter says is “not really on my mind.”
“I feel like if that’s something that’s on my mind, I can start to add pressure on myself that I don’t really want to add because we already have enough, just in the sense of what we want to do as an organization, as a team, coming after this last season was such a disappointment,” Giolito said Saturday.
“I feel that we all — at least looking around camp, seeing so many guys show up in great shape and watching bullpens and just unreal stuff right now — I feel like our focus is on righting the ship from last year and going out and playing really good White Sox baseball. If I do my part doing that, then everything else will take care of itself. That’s not something I keep on my mind.”
Giolito, 28, is focused on bouncing back after going 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA in 30 starts last season.
“I just took last year’s failure as big-time motivation, so I worked really hard in the gym, kind of revamped, just the focus and attention to every little area when it comes to getting my body in the correct shape so my muscles are strong, loose, I’m able to explode when I want to,” he said. “And I did a lot of work on the throwing side, getting my mechanics back to a nice, fluid state, getting everything on time and firing correctly. The combination of all that stuff, just worked really hard in the offseason and feel like.”
Giolito came to Sox camp last year at 280 pounds. This spring, the 6-foot-6 right-hander is at 245.
“His body is in a much better spot than it was last year after everything we went through,” Sox pitching coach Ethan Katz said. “That was the goal to kind of get it back to where it’s been. And he’s in phenomenal shape. His strength numbers are as good as they were last year with all that weight.
“He worked extremely hard this offseason. And so hard to the point of we’ve got to monitor and make sure he doesn’t do too much as he keeps going along. He’s coming in in great shape. He looks the part.”
Giolito said he “cut down on fat and leaned out some so that I’m more stable, more explosive, more athletic, because me as a big guy it’s more important to repeat my mechanics and be an athlete as much as I possible can. So it’s a huge focus.”
He had a live batting practice session Saturday at Camelback Ranch, facing Gavin Sheets, Andrew Vaughn and Romy Gonzalez, among others.
“I’ve seen him really, really good, really, really confident, kind of like I saw him there today,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “That’s what impressed me the most. He toed that rubber and he was in command. And it showed.
“He did a great job this offseason in putting himself in tremendous shape. He looks strong, he feels strong. Now it’s just a matter of him continuing to build his work capacity up ... and I think he’s going to be in a really good spot.”
Giolito received American League Cy Young Award votes in 2019-21. He didn’t think there was one particular reason for the inconsistencies in 2022.
“I can’t blame one thing, I was wrong in a lot of ways,” Giolito said. “Obviously it pissed me off, but I turned that anger into motivation. Literally day one I was getting after it. Now that we’re actually out here doing it, it’s like now we can manage not doing it too much. Make sure I get the recovery I need as well.”
Giolito is noticing the differences.
“I feel like my pitches are in a lot better spot than last year, but in general my body just feels better, so I feel like I can go out and get after it with all my pitches,” he said. “With all the work I did on the throwing side, I was able to get the slots and the releases back to a really good spot.
“So I’m just going to continue with that work and trust this process we have here back in camp and stay really present and work each day.”
Sox announce spring training broadcast schedule
The Sox will televise six Cactus League games on NBC Sports Chicago, the team announced Saturday, including the Feb. 25 opener against the San Diego Padres.
The other games are Feb. 27 versus the Seattle Mariners, March 7 versus the Milwaukee Brewers, March 12 versus the Los Angeles Angels, March 17 against the Cubs and March 23 versus the San Francisco Giants on NBC Sports Chicago plus.
WMVP-AM 1000 will air 10 Cactus League Sox games, beginning with a contest against the Padres. Other games include Feb. 27, March 3-4 (vs. Cincinnati and Texas), March 12, March 17, March 18 (vs. Los Angeles Dodgers), March 22 (vs. Kansas City), March 23 and March 26 (vs. Colorado).