White Sox

Poetry in Pros: Guillen sleeping like a baby

270118.jpg

Poetry in Pros: Guillen sleeping like a baby

Saturday, April 9, 2011
Posted: 3:16 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Mere hours after frustratingly suggesting that he blow the ballpark up rather than send out another pitcher to blow a save, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was eager to see how his team would respond to Fridays disheartening turn of events.

Good teams turn the page, Guillen said. I want to see how they show up today. Well see how good we are, how were going to show up today and keep fighting.

Despite his tempestuous reputation, the manager normally does a good job of keeping devastating defeats in perspectivebut last nights loss stuck with him for a bit.

There arent too many games I cant sleep, Guillen said. I promised my wife, Listen, Im not going to drink too much anymore. The season just started. So I had one drink. Losses are part of the game.

Undoubtedly Guillen was happy to know that closer Matt Thornton, who has blown both of his save opportunities this season, was keeping his head up and not planning on changing anything in his approach. But it didnt keep the jefe from cracking a joke at his embattled relievers expense.

Noooooooooooooo! Guillen exclaimed when told that Thornton would keep doing what hes always done. Please dont do the same thing! Matt, Matt, are you kidding me? Dont, dont!

Guillen basked in the chuckles, then buckled down for some real talk.

When the kid Kila Ka'aihue hit the base hit to left field to tie the game vs. Thornton on Wednesday in Kansas City, thats a bad pitchwhen you pound him in all night, and all of the sudden you go away and he just puts the bat on it for a base hit, Guillen said. Last night, the only ball I remember they hit hard off Thornton was the home run. Blooper, blooper, and we should have made a couple of plays in the field. Its not like people think, Wow, look he blew the game. He pitched good enough to not lose. The most important ball went out of the ballpark but besides that, we made five outs instead of three. Thats why I say, defense is very important in baseball. Youre not winning without defense, and last night we saw that. Did he pitch bad? No. Did he pitch good enough to lose? Yes, because he had a couple bloopersbut thats part of the game.

All the more reason for strength from the man in the big chair.

If Im going to come here with my down, Look what happened last night look, Im going to suck all my team in, Guillen said. No. Instead my attitude should be Hey, are we ready to fight today? If we lose today, we have to be ready to fight tomorrow. If we lose while fighting, I can sleep with that, I can live with that.

So, how did Ozzie sleep last night?

I slept like a baby: I woke up every two hours and started crying.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.coms White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox information.

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

hahn-pod.jpg
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: