Giolito 'very prepared' after ST dominance

Moncada clicking from left side; García scratch deemed precautionary

March 28th, 2021

White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito struck out 30 batters over 23 innings covering six Cactus League starts on his way to a second straight Opening Day trip to the mound this Thursday in Anaheim.

Giolito fanned nine in 5 2/3 scoreless innings during an 8-2 victory over the Rockies on Saturday, getting his pitch count up to 95 in his last start before the regular season. While the .130 average for opposing hitters produced in Arizona was impressive, it doesn’t matter as much as the goals that Giolito set, and then accomplished.

“A big goal of mine was to improve that slider, use it more. And we’ve accomplished that,” Giolito said. “Another goal of mine, continuing to develop my relationship with Yasmani [Grandal], as well as the other catchers. We accomplished that.

“Today, treating it like a regular-season start, competing from the get-go and it was a good one. So I feel very prepared and ready for the season to start.”

A target for Saturday was to get Giolito’s pitch count close to the 100 mark and to get him out for the sixth inning.

“Just to get in that groove of making pitches once that pitch count is higher,” Giolito said. “We were able to do that. I was told I had eight pitches to work with in the sixth; I tried to get through it, but unfortunately I gave up that double.

“Something I like to see out of myself is kind of treating the start like a build. I’m climbing this hill. I want my best stuff later in the game when we’re getting closer to being able to secure a win. I felt like today was one of those days -- coming out, being competitive, filling up the zone, but really stepping on the gas later.”

Moncada’s left is right
The switch-hitting Yoán Moncada feels all right when hitting from the left side.

“Right now, I feel very comfortable from the left side. I feel very good. I think I’m ready from the left side,” said Moncada through interpreter Billy Russo while on Zoom on Saturday. “From the right side, I’m still a little bit behind.

“It won’t take me too much time to get on time there. But I definitely feel better or more comfortable from the left side than the right side.”

Moncada has reached base in 17 straight Cactus League games with just two Spring Training games on the ledger, after falling a home run short of the cycle Saturday. That less-than-perfect feeling from the right side comes primarily from a lack of left-handed throwing opposition.

“You know what? That happened during [last] season too,” Moncada said. “It’s just a matter of getting the rhythm from that side. I’m going to be good. I’m not concerned.”

In showing off his smooth left-handed swing, Moncada launched a mammoth home run Friday against the Brewers. The blast came on the 10th pitch of an at-bat against Eric Yardley, with Moncada fouling the ninth pitch off of the inside of his right leg.

Manager Tony La Russa gave Moncada the option of resting Saturday, but Moncada let it be known early that he was ready to play.

“Just a little soreness in the lower leg. But I feel good,” Moncada said. “Thank god I was able to hit a homer. That alleviated the pressure on my leg.”

García scratched
Leury García was scratched from Saturday’s victory over the Rockies in Scottsdale due to general right shoulder soreness. The White Sox termed the move a precautionary measure.

García rates as another left-field option for the White Sox with Eloy Jiménez out for five to six months due to a rupture of his left pectoral tendon, which is requiring surgery. Nick Williams moved from right to left field with García out Saturday, and Billy Hamilton moved into right.

Both Williams and Hamilton are fighting for one of the last 26-man roster spots, while rookie Andrew Vaughn, who looked to be the clubhouse favorite as the starting designated hitter, made his professional left field debut against the Brewers on Friday.

Adam Engel becomes another strong candidate in left, but he will miss the season’s outset due to a right hamstring strain. Losing a big bat such as Jiménez would hurt any lineup, but the White Sox still have a deep enough attack where they have to play to their strengths and not try to do too much to overcompensate.

“We all have to do our job,” Moncada said. “Somebody is going to play that position, and whoever that may be, he has to do his job. It’s not on us to try to do too much. We have to do up to our capabilities.”

Third to first
José Abreu, who homered Saturday, needs two regular-season home runs to become the fifth player in franchise history with 200 career homers as a member of the White Sox.

Tim Anderson’s two hits raised his Cactus League average to .309 and his OPS to .806.

He said it
“He’s so uplifting every day and he works very hard. You feel sorry for him. But at the end of the day, you are going to face adversity like that throughout a season. The path to the end of the season is never going to be easy. We just take those adversities as they come and we just keep moving, keep doing what we can do.” – Reliever Codi Heuer, on dealing with the Jiménez injury