Giolito in spring with new routine, optimism

Former top prospect aims to be more consistent and not overthink

February 24th, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. – It would have been easy for Lucas Giolito to look at his 2018 statistics, featuring 90 walks and a 6.13 ERA over 173 1/3 innings and 32 starts, and simply brush them aside.

After all, it was the right-hander’s first full season in the Majors, but the 24-year-old Giolito actually was left with two choices following this rough campaign.

Let it consume him and carry over into 2019, or believe in his stuff and do all he could to fix the issues. He chose the latter, fighting his way through a small crisis of confidence at times.

“When you come out of the game in the second inning and you just gave up five or six runs and the team has no basic shot to come back now and it’s on you, there’s a lot of negative thoughts that are going to creep in,” Giolito said. “I’m not going to lie to you and say that I was, you know, ‘I’m the man, I got this the entire time.’

“Instead of letting it eat at me and feeling sorry for myself, I would try to push past it and continue to grind through that season. Whereas now, I had a full offseason to digest it, learn from it and be able to start applying things I know I need to do to be successful. It’s concrete. It’s there and I’m not straying away from it.”

Call Giolito the man with a plan. It can be heard in the way he talks. It can be observed in the way he carries himself. It can be viewed in his on-field work, with Giolito making his 2019 Cactus League debut Thursday against Seattle in Peoria.

Take a drill Giolito was doing recently as an example. He was focusing on his delivery on a side mound at Camelback Ranch, without a baseball and wearing what appeared to be a harness. Giolito explained the purpose of that device, known as a core velocity belt, with an overriding target of steadying his mechanics.

“Basically, it’s a tool that I started using this offseason just for my normal towel drill work, certain gym work, slide board stuff, med ball stuff,” Giolito said. “When I put it on, it basically wraps around your legs, your waist. You hook on with rubber bands, and there’s different ways you can do it, which kind of moves the resistance, or it will do the opposite and will help you hit the position you are trying to hit.

“I’ll do sets of towel drills on the slope where I’m wearing this thing. If I have it pulling from behind me, then what happens when I come set and I lift my leg, it forces me to load on to my back side. So, it’s like creating that exaggeration of that feeling which is what I’m always searching for. I’m doing drills where I’m exaggerating this feeling. When I take it off, it’s, ‘Oh, the feeling is right there.’

“My lower half is working much better, much cleaner,” Giolito said. “I’m staying over my back side better.”

All of this work is part of what Giolito describes as a very solid five-day routine, which he has written down and will follow whether it’s after a good start or bad. Giolito also is done with the days of overthinking what is transpiring, even in the middle of a game.

“Being consistent is the No. 1 thing for me this year,” Giolito said. “I learned a ton from last year.

“I’ve had a full turnaround and I’m in a much better place with a lot of the things that I’m doing both on the physical and mental side to prepare myself for a season where I can perform on the level I know I’m capable. I’m happy.”