Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Chicago White Sox
news

White Sox News

Giolito on ASG: 'This is where I belong'

Righty records scoreless inning of work in All-Star debut; McCann lines base hit, makes key grab
July 10, 2019

Lucas Giolito took the mound in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Progressive Field, and he fit right in amongst baseball’s biggest stars. Chicago’s breakout ace issued a four-pitch walk to the first batter he faced, the Braves' Freddie Freeman, but then retired a trio of dangerous National

Lucas Giolito took the mound in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Progressive Field, and he fit right in amongst baseball’s biggest stars.

Chicago’s breakout ace issued a four-pitch walk to the first batter he faced, the Braves' Freddie Freeman, but then retired a trio of dangerous National League sluggers -- Cody Bellinger, Nolan Arenado and Josh Bell -- to complete his scoreless frame in the American League's 4-3 victory.

“Going out there that inning, facing some of the best hitters, further cements to me that this is where I belong,” Giolito said. “[I’ll] continue to build some confidence from there and keep riding it out.”

Box score

The first-time All-Star struck out Bellinger, an NL Most Valuable Player Award candidate, on an 82.8-mph inside changeup, and retired Arenado and Bell on a pair of soft groundouts.

“The closest thing I can compare it to is my MLB debut,” Giolito said. “Obviously I faced, 1-2-3, some of the best hitters in the game right now.”

Giolito was one of three White Sox players -- he joined catcher James McCann, also making his first appearance, and three-time All-Star first baseman Jose Abreu -- competing for the AL in Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic, a distinction earned with a remarkable breakout campaign in this season's first half.

The 24-year-old right-hander -- the first White Sox righty to compete in an All-Star Game since Jon Garland in 2005 -- isn’t surprised by his seemingly sudden success. He expected it.

“If you want to compete at this level and stay here for a long time, you have to have the confidence that you’re better than everybody else,” Giolito said. “That’s what I take in my start against whoever, in the regular season or an All-Star game. For me, that’s what it’s all about.”

Giolito went from posting the highest ERA in baseball last season to going 11-3 with a 3.15 ERA, two complete games and 120 strikeouts against 38 walks through 17 starts in 2019.

"I'm definitely not the guy who came up and set the league on fire. I took a bunch of lumps, especially last year," Giolito said. "I went into last offseason with a different gameplan. I knew I was so much better than what I showed all my time in the big leagues up until this year. ... I was able to turn it around quickly and get back on track to be the pitcher I know I can be."

McCann followed Giolito into the game in the sixth inning, replacing Gary Sanchez as the AL’s backstop. In the seventh, he took a 97.6-mph fastball from Brandon Woodruff and turned it around for a 107.2-mph, line-drive single into right-center field, which he called a "surreal moment." McCann also made a nice play hauling in a popup by Mike Moustakas in foul territory to end the top of the eighth.

After the game, the 29-year-old catcher echoed Giolito's confidence at earning his moment on the All-Star stage.

"[I reminded] myself of how fun the game is, but also that I belong," McCann said. "I'm part of an All-Star Game and being considered as one of the top performers of the first half."

Both of Chicago's All-Star first-timers relished their time in Cleveland. Giolito said he spent much of it as a "sponge," absorbing information from the plethora of talent around Progressive Field. He talked pitching with one Hall of Famer, Pedro Martinez, and another future Hall of Famer, Justin Verlander, among others. And even received some props from the Astros' Gerrit Cole for his shutout against Houston in May.

The week's festivities had a bittersweet feeling, however, after the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs on July 1. Skaggs was a close friend of Giolito's, and they shared an agent. The pair attended each others weddings this past December.

"It’s been weird because I’m here celebrating my accomplishments, but at the same time, in the back of my mind, it’s still fresh," Giolito said. "At times, it doesn’t feel real. Grief is a tough thing. I feel so sorry. It’s such a horrible thing to have happen to his family."

Abreu replaced hometown star Carlos Santana at first base in the seventh inning, and he grounded into an inning-ending double play to short in his lone at-bat in the eighth. An All-Star veteran, Abreu passed along some pointers to the first-timers.

"He warned me how busy everything is and to make sure you get your rest after," McCann said. "You have a lot of stuff going on in the two days; it’s jam-packed. He told me I should take a step back and appreciate everything."

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com.