If you’re expecting to challenge the Minnesota Twins for the AL Central title, no reason to mess around. Why not face them on Opening Day?
“Sounds like fun to me,” Lucas Giolito said on the White Sox Talk Podcast.
But while Giolito will likely be starting for the White Sox that night — July 24 on NBC Sports Chicago — ask him how, or should we say if, this season actually finishes in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and you get a much different answer, one layered with doubt about possible problems that could lie ahead for the entire league.
“I’m not 100-percent confident that we’re going to get through a season this year, but I have to prepare for it mentally, physically and be ready to go. We all have to,” Giolito said. “I’m trying to follow the rules, protocols, do everything that I can, communicate to others to do it as well. I think if we can do that and guys are being pretty safe away from the field, then there’s a pretty good chance we can at least get it started.”
Not exactly a quote the league wants to put on a billboard, but it’s baseball’s unfortunate reality.
The players know what they’re up against: a battle against a virus that doesn’t care who’s pitching or hitting, who’s home or away.
“For me, I’m all for whatever keeps us safe. We’re not going to be safe, (so) I guess as safe as possible. So far, I’ve seen no issues with my tests or any of my teammates,” Giolito said. “I just think it’s important that we do everything we can, which by looking around the clubhouse these last few days in our 'Summer Camp,' I feel like everyone on the team is taking it seriously. We’re doing a pretty solid job adhering to all the rules.”
Last week, White Sox players held a Zoom call to discuss not just the rules, but how every single person is responsible for their actions. One bad decision by one player could put the whole team and season in jeopardy.
“When we are away from the field, are we socially distancing? Are we wearing our masks when we go to the grocery store? Or going out to bars or restaurants and hanging out with a bunch of random people? That’s going to be the biggest challenge, I think, for everyone involved with this. Coming together and saying, 'This is the normal right now. This is what we’ve got to do if we want to make this work,'” Giolito explained. “I think it’s going to be important that team leaders, both coaches and players, continue to reiterate that.”
So far, two White Sox players have tested positive for COVID-19. Both positive tests came during the team's intake period, before workouts began at Guaranteed Rate Field last Friday.
Giolito said he’s been tested two to three times.
“If we could (be tested) every day, I would do it every day.”
Watching the workout on Monday, other than the sight of coaches wearing masks, everything looked normal with the White Sox. Eloy Jiménez was laughing and smiling. Luis Robert was roaming center field like a gazelle. Edwin Encarnación was crushing balls deep into the seats.
Despite the pandemic, the goal for 2020 remains the same.
It’s time to start winning.
In this case, Giolito says that means beating their opponents, as well as the virus.
“It’s unfortunately a risk that I’m taking and many of my teammates are taking," he said. "At the same time, we’re interested in winning, and we’re not going to win if we’re not playing.”