Grandal on workload, Giolito 'entire package'

February 19th, 2021

CHICAGO -- Tony La Russa has made a positive first impression on White Sox catcher at the outset of the Hall of Famer’s second stint as the team’s manager.

“He's here every day, even from when he signed. Every time I've been here, he's been here,” said Grandal in a Zoom from Glendale, Ariz., on Thursday. “I feel like he looks at the game almost the same way that I do, where I want to make sure we cover everything from head to toe, no matter what, from the beginning to the end and afterwards in order to be successful. That's why he's had the success that he's had in his managerial career.”

La Russa has made clear to Grandal from Day 1 the importance of catchers and how they keep everything aligned. The backstop is ready to catch as many games as possible in 2021. He was behind the plate for 32 games during the abbreviated '20 season, but he had caught 117, 135 and 137 in the three previous seasons.

“It all comes down to whatever amount of games they want to slot me in,” Grandal said. “I'm ready to play a full season, plus playoffs.

“That's pretty much what I train for. And when it comes to changing the way I train in the offseason, I don't. I've always tried to put myself in the most uncomfortable spot that I can be during a workout so that when I do get there, it's just natural.”

Giolito opens strong
, who figures to be the White Sox Opening Day starter for a second straight season, had an impressive first bullpen session under La Russa’s watch on Thursday.

“The sharpness, because he has worked really hard to get here,” La Russa said of what stood out. “And you can see the connection he has with [pitching coach] Ethan [Katz]. Lot of people are talking about the top of our rotation with Lance [Lynn] and Dallas [Keuchel] and Lucas. Lucas is the entire package from what I see.”

La Russa also was impressed by Giolito taking the time to watch throw his first bullpen session with the White Sox.

“That really gave me just a great feeling about where his head and heart are,” La Russa said. “Then you look at his work ethic, and I see his bullpen today and say, 'What? It’s February,' and think 'What’s going on, man?'

“It just shows that this guy wants to be a No. 1 type. You don’t just start Opening Day. It’s the way you compete and carry yourself between starts.”

Third to first
and also threw side sessions Thursday. Grandal likes what he has seen from Cease, who has worked with Katz on correcting some mechanical flaws focused basically on his lower half.

“If we get him to where we see him going, this guy could be a Cy Young finalist,” Grandal said. “He could possibly be a Cy Young winner. He's got the tools to do it, there's no doubt on that.”

• La Russa started smiling before a question asked about left-handed reliever Garrett Crochet was even finished.

“Everybody knows there's not a hitter around who is going to look forward to standing in there against him,” La Russa said. “We've got a whole bunch of guys who are not really comfortable to hit against.”

They said it
“You’ve got the guys who can put balls in play, the guys who can run, the guys who can hit it out of the park. It’s not easy. If you get a bunch of guys who can hit for power, there’s ways to pitch them. But when you have to constantly change the way you approach -- hitter to hitter and situation to situation -- it makes the pre-planning a lot harder.” -- closer Liam Hendriks on facing the White Sox lineup

“As far as keeping your mind fresh, if you only think about your job for a few hours per day then not only are you not exercising your mind, but you're not doing your job. I can't turn it off, and I like keeping it turned on.” -- La Russa on what helps him to stay a young 76.