White Sox

Adam Eaton survived first real throwing test Monday

Adam Eaton survived first real throwing test Monday

A player with no previous shoulder issues would likely have felt sore on Tuesday after they endured Adam Eaton’s workload on Monday night.

So it didn’t set off any alarms for the White Sox outfielder when he woke up feeling a little uncomfortable on Tuesday.

Eaton, who was involved in nearly a dozen plays in Monday’s blowout loss, is pleased with how his surgically repaired shoulder fared in its first true test of the season. Eaton, who had nerve decompression surgery in October, was in the White Sox lineup in right field for Tuesday’s game.

“I’m a little sore today, but that’s something we prepared for in spring training,” Eaton said. “Made a lot of throws in spring training, not in front of everybody, preparing ourselves for days like today or yesterday. We’re good.

“Everything came out real well, and I feel good. I think if I can survive days like yesterday, I can survive any day.”

Manager Robin Ventura had already checked in with the outfielder before Tuesday’s media session. He said he planned to keep his eye trained on Eaton for the second of four games against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.

The Angels kept Eaton very busy Monday. He was involved in 11 plays in all, including five in the first inning. Only one of the 11 didn’t require a throw as the other 10 were either base hits or fly balls with a man on base.

Ventura liked what he saw from Eaton, who spent the first month of spring building up arm strength. Eaton didn’t play in the outfield in an exhibition game until March 19.

“He was warm,” Ventura said. “He was definitely warm. He got all the use he needed out of his arm. I thought he threw it great, plus hitting the cutoff man, he was fine. He seems to be fine today. I’m more concerned about today than I was last night.”

Eaton actually continued to work after Monday’s loss as he and the training staff worked to further strengthen his shoulder. The plan calls for strengthening twice a week, and Monday was on the schedule.

“Even after a long day, I still went out and strengthened a little bit and made sure all the muscles were all back there,” Eaton said with a laugh.

Eaton didn’t wear an ice pack when he addressed the media after Monday’s loss. He said icing the nerve can cause it to tighten up and lose circulation, and they want it to continue to move. Though Eaton’s shoulder will continue to require maintenance, he likes how it has responded. He also said most of the leg work has already been completed.

“The (trainers) did a great job preparing me for days like yesterday so a lot of credit goes to them,” Eaton said. “Keep everything flowing in the right direction. But realistically, a lot of my work is done out there.

“I feel like it’s really strong. The ball is coming out pretty well. I’m happy with where we’re at.”

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: