GIOLITO MAKES HIS PITCH

Sox right-han­der look­ing to take lead­er­ship role on and off field this sea­son

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN dvan­schouwen@sun­times.com | @CST_­sox­van

In a span of 24 hours, right-han­der Lu­cas Giolito raised his hand high to vol­un­teer for the role of leader of the pitch­ing staff, of­fered var­ied lev­els of as­sur­ances about two huge tal­ents ab­sent from White Sox camp and demon­strated some bona fide com­mu­nity lead­er­ship.

And on third base­man Yoan Mon­cada, be­lieved to be one of two Sox play­ers miss­ing af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus (both are asymp­to­matic), Giolito of­fered some en­cour­age­ment on a con­fer­ence call fol­low­ing his sim­u­lated game Wed­nes­day: “Ob­vi­ously, Mon­cada will be back soon. He’s a huge part of this team. He’s not go­ing any­where. I’m not too wor­ried about it. This is a weird time for every­body. There’s go­ing to be some bumps in the road and we’ll get past them.”

On right-han­der Michael Kopech, who isn’t in camp be­cause of a per­sonal mat­ter (and not health-re­lated, gen­eral man­ager Rick Hahn said): “Michael will be a big part of this go­ing for­ward. Ob­vi­ously, he has some things he has to take care of, and that’s for him to deal with, that’s his pri­vate life. It is what it is.”

While man­ager Rick Ren­te­ria was re­luc­tant to name his Open­ing Day starter, Giolito, the ex­pected and de­serv­ing choice af­ter his break­out Al­lS­tar sea­son, made it clear he wants to lead the Sox’ staff well be­yond the first pitch of an ab­bre­vi­ated sea­son, which be­gins July 24 against the Twins.

“I ab­so­lutely want that,” Giolito said. “The way I look at it, be­ing the ace of the staff, you are set­ting an ex­am­ple not just with what you are do­ing on the field but also tak­ing a more vo­cal role, which I feel like I’m try­ing to get the feel for. And yeah, that’s pretty much what I want. I want to be that leader of the pitch­ing staff, tak­ing the ball in the first game, kind of set­ting the tone. But at the same time, I want to main­tain that thought that I’m not the only ace on the team. I’ve got four more right be­hind me.”

Giolito also talked about a project he’s in­volved in that can make a dif­fer­ence in the com­mu­nity, a ven­ture with for­mer Bears linebacker Sam Acho and cur­rent Chicago ath­letes Mitch

“THE WAY I LOOK AT IT, BE­ING THE ACE OF THE STAFF, YOU ARE SET­TING AN EX­AM­PLE NOT JUST WITH WHAT YOU ARE DO­ING ON THE FIELD BUT ALSO TAK­ING A MORE VO­CAL ROLE, WHICH I FEEL LIKE I’M TRY­ING TO GET THE FEEL FOR.”

LU­CAS GIOLITO

Tru­bisky, Jonathan Toews, Jason Hey­ward and Di­a­mond DeShields. The group pur­chased a liquor store in South Austin, de­mol­ished it and will build a needed gro­cery store there.

“It’s an area that has a lot of liquor stores and food marts sell­ing un­healthy op­tions,” Giolito said. “And it lacks gro­cery stores, fresh food. So this is like the model go­ing for­ward we can ap­ply to a lot of com­mu­ni­ties around Chicago and even ex­pand across the United States, where we buy a liquor store — this one was next to a big beau­ti­ful com­mu­nity cen­ter — and we put a fresh food mar­ket there, hire peo­ple in the local area, and it’s a self-sus­tain­ing thing. Build­ing up the com­mu­nity, giv­ing the peo­ple there an op­por­tu­nity for suc­cess.

Talk­ing to kids from the area, Giolito said he heard about “dif­fer­ent peo­ple’s back­grounds, how they’re coming up through life. And me be­ing in the po­si­tion I am, I want to help fa­cil­i­tate growth in our youth and push that nee­dle for­ward.”

With each pass­ing day, the soonto-be 26-year-old Giolito demon­strates ma­tu­rity, thought­ful­ness and char­ac­ter. “Civic trea­sure” might be a stretch, but in the sport­ing realm, Giolito is trend­ing that way. He also hap­pened to be one of the best pitch­ers in the Amer­i­can League in 2019.

On Wed­nes­day at Guar­an­teed Rate Field, the sixth day of Sox camp, Giolito pitched three in­nings in a sim­u­lated game. The sec­ond in­ning in­cluded a pair of con­sec­u­tive walks, but over­all he was fine. He struck out four, in­clud­ing Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Tim An­der­son.

In 15 days, he’ll be ready for Open­ing Day.

“I know what I need to do,” he said.

JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES

Lu­cas Giolito, who is coming off an All-Star sea­son, hopes he will start on Open­ing Day on July 24 against the Twins.

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