White Sox

White Sox staff leader Lucas Giolito ready to rock, hopeful for multiple aces

White Sox staff leader Lucas Giolito ready to rock, hopeful for multiple aces

When Lucas Giolito arrived for his Zoom media session Monday afternoon, he threw up the ol’ double sign of the horns.


And though Giolito’s musical preferences are well known to skew toward hip hop, it was as fitting a sign as any for a pitcher who’s ready to rock n roll.

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Even if manager Rick Renteria isn’t ready to reveal Giolito as his pick for the Opening Day starter, it would be absolutely shocking if it’s anyone but the right-hander who turned his career around last season taking the ball in the July 24 opener against the Minnesota Twins.

That's what happens when you're the ace.

Thanks to a transformation that saw him go from the pitcher with the worst statistics in baseball in 2018 to an All Star last year, Giolito enters this campaign in an entirely different world. He’s now leading a rotation on a team with postseason aspirations, a far cry from Opening Day a year ago, when he and the White Sox were coming off 100 losses and there were legitimate questions about how he fit into the team’s long-term pitching picture.

Now he’s anchoring that long-term pitching plan and counts as one of the main reasons the White Sox look capable of finally leaping out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode, capable of competing alongside the Twins and Cleveland Indians in a fight for AL Central supremacy.

Though he bristles at the idea of being called a veteran — he’s just 25 years old, with only two full major league seasons under his belt — he’s eager to be a leader. He’s been talking about it since last year, and now that he’s got a season’s worth of All-Star performance to back it up, he’s ready to take charge, to be the stopper, to set the tone for what’s expected to be a big season from Day 1.

“I absolutely want that,” he said last week. “The way I look at it, being the ace of the staff, you are setting an example not just with what you are doing on the field but also taking a more vocal role, which I feel like I’m trying to continue to get the feel for that. And yeah, that’s pretty much what I want. I want to be that leader of the pitching staff, taking the ball in the first game, kind of setting the tone.

“But at the same time, I want to maintain that thought that I’m not the only ace on the team. I’ve got four more right behind me.”

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The White Sox sure are hoping that the rotation is more than just him this year. Last year, the team could count on sterling performances once every five days, but the four starts in between were marked by anything but consistency. The import of veterans Dallas Keuchel and Gio González gives the rotation a heck of a lot more dependability. And if Dylan Cease, Reynaldo López and Carlos Rodón can provide positive answers to the questions about what they’ll be able to give the White Sox this season, then Giolito’s hopes for a hand of aces could come to fruition.

But he’s still the man at the top, brimming with confidence after his transformative 2019.

Keuchel recognizes what he’s seeing in his new teammate. It hasn’t been too long since he had a career year and sat atop the Houston Astros’ rotation as they grew into a perennial contender.

“What I see from him is an ability to be an ace,” Keuchel said of Giolito. “He’s every bit of a horse that you’d want at the top of the rotation. … He’s got all the intangibles you want in a quality major league pitcher that can do it for years to come.

“What I see in him is what I had in myself. … Until you get over that mental edge and push through and have that first good year, you can’t really say too many things out loud. But it’s the inside that really counts, because you’re pushing yourself every day.”

Monday, Giolito looked as ace-like as a pitcher can look during an intrasquad game. After working through a trafficky first inning, he set down the rest of the batters he faced in order over the course of his four innings.

We, of course, talkin’ ‘bout practice. But the White Sox pitchers have, for the most part, looked good in these outings against their teammates. Giolito’s positive performance Monday was preceded by solid work by Rodón, Keuchel and even youngsters like Dane Dunning.

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It might only be practice, but it’s the only practice these guys are going to get — save the three exhibition games coming up against the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers — before the games start counting in a little more than a week.

“I’m trying to go out there and, to the best of my ability, treat it like a big league start during the regular season,” Giolito said. “You have to prepare for that if you want to be successful in those situations. Even though I’m facing a bunch of teammates, I’m going out there and trying to make pitches like I would in a regular-season game.

“I’ve been liking what I’ve been seeing from all of our starters. Filling up the zone, attacking hitters. That’s what we are going to have to do to get deep into games and give our team the best chance to win each time out.

“I love it. We are right where we need to be.”


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Ozzie Guillen rips Nick Swisher again while telling story from 2008

Ozzie Guillen rips Nick Swisher again while telling story from 2008

Ozzie Guillen isn’t done ragging on Nick Swisher. Guillen took another shot at the former White Sox outfielder while telling a story on White Sox Postgame Live Tuesday night.

When giving an example of why he loves Juan Uribe so much, Guillen decided to tell a story of an interaction between Swisher and Uribe on “Nick Swisher bobblehead night” at U.S. Cellular Field.

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“(Swisher) comes to Uribe and says, ‘Hey Juan, look at what I got!’” Guillen said while pretending to hold a bobblehead. “And Juan said, ‘Ya, you seen outside? I’ve got a statue. I’ve got it hitting, catching the ball when we won the World Series. You don’t.’ How about that one?”

Uribe was critical in the White Sox World Series championship, including recording the final two outs of Game 4. One of those outs-- his grab made while falling into the stands-- is the catch that has been enshrined outside Guaranteed Rate Field.

Nick Swisher only played one season in Chicago, and slashed .219/.332/.410 with a -1.4 dWAR.

Apparently that one season made quite the impression on Guillen, as he declared last week, “I hate Nick Swisher with my heart.”


RELATED: White Sox hitters rough up Carson Fulmer in first game against former team

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Day after Keuchel calls out team, White Sox offense erupts in win over Tigers

Day after Keuchel calls out team, White Sox offense erupts in win over Tigers

Whatever Dallas Keuchel said after Monday night’s uninspiring loss to the Tigers really worked. Or maybe the return of Tim Anderson and Edwin Encarnacion to the lineup gave the Sox the spark they needed? Or maybe it was a little bit of both?

Whatever the reason, the White Sox offense finally broke out of its collective slump in Tuesday’s 8-4 win against Detroit.

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Leading the charge was Eloy Jiménez, who busted out of a slump of his own by going 2-4 with a homer and four RBI. He had previously been 1-23 dating back to Aug. 5, and used a simple approach to break through.

“I was in a slump, and I feel like I was seeing the ball good, but I wasn’t hitting it to the right spot,” Jiménez said through interpreter Billy Russo. “(I was) swinging at some balls a little bit out of the zone. Now I’m just trying to see the ball and hit it where there’s no people.”

That’s always a good idea.

But when asked for his thoughts on Jiménez’s day, Rick Renteria provided a bit more of a nuanced assessment.

“Consistency, there’s no secret to it,” Renteria said. “Solid approaches working both lefties and righties… faced some righties today and was able to stay in on them. The two-strike ball down the right field line to tack on another run, I mean he had some really good at-bats today.”

Zooming back out, this is the type of offensive output the White Sox envisioned when they built this team last winter. Tim Anderson setting the table, Jiménez and Encarnacion hitting bombs, and Abreu and Moncada driving in more runs with timely hitting.

“The entire lineup looked great,” said starter Gio Gonzalez. “Everyone looked aggressive going out there. Plays were being made around the horn, guys were doing their job hitting the ball, moving runners over. It just looked like a White Sox win today.”

“Today we felt really good,” Jiménez said. “We took care of business and you see what happened.”

RELATED: White Sox hitters rough up Carson Fulmer in first game against former team

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