White Sox

White Sox winter meetings recap: Day 1

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White Sox winter meetings recap: Day 1

The first day of the winter meetings in Dallas passed by without anything concrete happening, but the groundwork appears to be laid for Mark Buehrle to leave the White Sox.

Chuck Garfien says Miami is still the frontrunner to sign Buehrle, despite that Robin Ventura, Kenny Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf want the lefty back. Ventura actually ran into Buehrle on the street in New York City, of all places, and implored Buehrle to return.

But Buehrle could get a four-year deal, possibly for a total close to the four-year contract extension he signed with the White Sox in 2007. That's a price tag the Sox won't -- and shouldn't -- meet.

The Twins reportedly jumped into the Buehrle sweepstakes, although they aren't considered a major player. As it stands, the Marlins, Nationals and Rangers are likely the three teams with the best shot to land Buehrle.

Late in the evening, a rumor popped up that the Cardinals could try to deal Kyle Lohse to make room for Buehrle in their rotation. That probably won't happen, though.

In non-Buehrle news, the asking price on John Danks and Gavin Floyd remained high Monday. The Yankees aren't willing to trade either Manny Banuelos or Jesus Montero, both blue-chip prospects, for Danks. Williams doesn't appear to be at the winter meetings to set the market on pitching, instead, he's letting the market dictate itself. And until the pitching market is more clear, he's going to demand all of the tea in China for Danks or Floyd.

Minnie Minoso received just nine of 16 votes from the special "Golden Era" veterans' committee, falling three votes short of a worthy induction into Cooperstown. Jerry Reinsdorf was stunned by the result.

White Sox pitchers and catchers report Feb. 23, with the first full-squad workout Feb. 28 and the first spring training game March 5 of next year. About a month before spring training, the White Sox will host a 2005 World Series reunion of sorts at SoxFest.

Around the division: Minnesota made an odd move, re-signing Matt Capps to a deal worth a minimum of 4.75 million for 2012. There's a 6 million option for 2013 as well. While 4.75 million isn't much, the Twins don't have unlimited cash and could've spent it better than on a guy who posted a negative WAR last year.

And finally, Kansas City is reported to have interest in A's starter (and two-time former White Sox farmhand) Gio Gonzalez and Tamps Bay's James Shields. The Rays asked for an exorbitant return for Shields, and it's hard to see Kansas City dealing away star prospect Wil Myers in any deal this winter.

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: