The first White Sox spring training game without a broadcast or webcast featured one of the players for whom observations matter most: Lucas Giolito.
The former top pitching prospect in baseball took the mound against the Cubs on Monday. He came away with OK results — one run over two innings — but he benefited from a terrific 4-6-3 double play started by Yoan Moncada to escape the first.
Lucas Giolito gets a double play off bat of Anthony Rizzo after Yoan Moncada dove to make the stop. Chicago White Sox Chicago Cubs CSN ChicagoPosted by Dan Hayes on Monday, February 27, 2017
The process that went into those results sounded less inspiring, both from scouts and the pitcher himself, who wasn’t as effusive in his self-assessment, as, say, Carson Fulmer.
FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen was in attendance ...
Lucas Giolito mostly 90-93 thru 2. Curveball shape looks fine just not inducing swings, has missed bats with a decent change, 80-84.— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) February 27, 2017
... and Daryl Van Schouwen backed up the read on the velocity:
Giolito generally features mid-90s velocity, but his fastball sat in the low 90s. Russell tagged what the 6-6 right-hander called a “flat” four-seam fastball.
“It’s a pretty packed stadium, adrenaline going, I got a little quick, got a little ahead of myself and missed,” Giolito said, “especially with the four-seam fastball. I missed quite a few.’’
Considering the timing of this start — early in a long spring while implementing mechanical changes/restoration in a new organization — I’m comfortable waiting a few outings before attempting to pin what we might actually know about him. It’d be more fun if he came out throwing an easy 96, and the absence of such velocity might turn from an isolated data point to a trend, but there’s lots of time left in this season for suffocating ourselves with doubt. I don’t see much of a need to start the process earlier than necessary, especially since Giolito and the Sox would benefit from starting the season in Charlotte with a to-do list.
Regarding that end, he gave a sample of the tasks ahead:
"The biggest things are being able to differentiate throwing a curveball for a strike and throwing the good one down for a put-away pitch, and then commanding fastballs to both sides of the plate," Giolito said. "I did a better job today throwing fastballs away to lefties and inside to righties than the opposite. So we continue to work on that in the pen, but I'll have plenty more opportunities."
Speaking of an easy 96, Michael Kopech starts today against Seattle in game that can actually be watched, although you might need Twitter to find somebody with a radar-gun reading.
If we’re keeping track of ways Rick Renteria differs from Robin Ventura, here he is resembling the other Chicago manager:
[Zack Collins] and several others young players addressed a room full of players, coaches and staff to discuss what they believe to be the best fishing lures and reels. The presentation is part of a series of team-building exercises newly incorporated by manager Rick Renteria that has ties to methods long used by Los Angeles Angels skipper Mike Scioscia that have been passed down over the years.
The goal is simple: bring together a room full of unfamiliar players through a series of off-beat productions to break up the monotony of the daily meetings. [...]
This spring's adaptations from White Sox camp have included Collins' fishing lesson, acting from pitcher Lucas Giolito (whose family includes Hollywood actors and directors) and a WWE impersonation by reliever Tommy Kahnle, who walked into the clubhouse dressed as The Ultimate Warrior.
The method is most associated with Joe Maddon, as his variation brings in bigger spectacles to also divert the media’s attention, but both are members of the Scioscia managing tree. Dan Hayes says Renteria picked up the practice from Bud Black during his days as a coach in San Diego, and Black was Scioscia’s long-time pitching coach.
Semi-related note: “Robin Ventura Managing Tree” is a great fantasy baseball team name, if you’re in need of one.