GLENDALE, Ariz. — Yasmani Grandal might not yet possess the same pitcher-catcher bond that James McCann shared with Lucas Giolito the last two seasons, but judging by Giolito’s bullpen session Saturday, Grandal is off to a great start working with the White Sox staff ace.
"I was kind of taken aback at the preparation he has done behind the scenes for me," Giolito said of Grandal in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "He’s been looking at a lot of video of my starts. His glove placement, the targets he’s been presenting, really shows the work he’s been putting in. The game-calling, he has it down already. Now it’s just a matter of getting more reps, communicating, and we’re good to go."
McCann’s meticulous game-planning for Giolito’s starts allowed the White Sox ace to trust in his catcher completely, developing a trust and confidence that helped make Giolito one of the best pitchers in the game. The two were so locked in with one another, it seemed like they were on the same wavelength, sharing each other's thoughts on attacking hitters often without speaking.
"(McCann) meant a lot to me the last couple years," Giolito said. "I don’t think I would have made some of the strides the last couple seasons without him behind the plate for me."
McCann was behind the plate for most of Giolito’s greatest games, including his no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2020 regular season, as well as Giolito’s first career playoff game, a dominating performance against the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series.
"Having that really close relationship with a catcher, it doesn’t come too often," Giolito said, "It was definitely not something I was taking for granted at the time, and it’s not something I’m taking for granted now."
Searching for a starting job, McCann found that and more this offseason, hitting the jackpot as a free agent with a four-year, $40 million contract from the New York Mets.
How much is Giolito going to miss him?
"A lot," he said. "I still text with him all the time. He’s one of my very close friends. I’m sure I’ll be facing him at some point in the future."
In the World Series, perhaps?
For that to happen on the White Sox end, Giolito and Grandal need to forge a bond of their own.
"Now it’s time to start to build that relationship with Yaz," Giolito said about Grandal. "I don’t think a player should ever try to exactly emulate another player. Yaz has had a kick-ass career which he’s continuing to do, and he’s one of the best catchers in baseball. I’m very excited to be working with him.
"It’s only going to get better and better."