Giolito takes first step toward Opening Day start

March 7th, 2020

MESA, Ariz. -- is all but officially listed as the White Sox Opening Day starter for the March 26 game against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.

And his one-inning, 15-pitch effort during Friday’s 6-3 White Sox victory over the Cubs at Sloan Park moved him closer to hitting that first-time career honor. Giolito made his Cactus League debut after being sidelined by a chest muscle strain just above his right ribcage, recording one strikeout and hitting Kyle Schwarber in an otherwise unblemished frame.

“It was fun. A lot of fun. It was good to get out there, thrown right into the fire,” Giolito said. “I think that this environment -- you have the Cubs and Sox and this park itself -- is like the closest you’re going to get to big league level as far as fans and adrenaline and all that stuff."

Giolito pitched to catcher for the first time in a game situation, with Grandal also being out of action through the first part of Cactus League play due to a left calf strain. He praised the catcher for calling a 3-2 changeup to Willson Contreras, picking up a called third strike for the second out of the inning.

“He presents a great target, very relaxed back there,” said Giolito of Grandal. “We didn’t get deep into sequencing and things like that because I was pretty much throwing all fastballs and I mixed in a couple of changeups. But we’re going to keep working, for sure.

“I wanted to feel comfortable out there working at game speed. I wanted my pitches to be in the strike zone. I wasn’t too concerned with dotting command wise, but just getting ahead, which I only did to one batter. It was good overall, working ahead in the count.”

The White Sox have no doubt there’s plenty of time to get Giolito ready, and the right-hander felt great physically Friday.

“We’ll be able to put him into situations to continue to elevate his pitch count,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “All we’re looking for is to make sure that he leaves the spring obviously healthy, which he is, and build him up as much as we possibly can. Use whatever means necessary to meet that criteria.”

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“I’m just going to keep progressing nicely here,” Giolito said. “That was like first game back, always a little bit of adrenaline. We had a lot of fun with it and now we go ahead and pitch in five days and keep building up.”

Stiever among first White Sox cuts

Right-handed pitcher Jonathan Stiever -- the White Sox No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- did not pitch during Cactus League action before he was reassigned to Minor League camp Friday. Stiever, 22, was bothered by soreness “in a weird spot in my arm,” but an MRI showed everything was normal.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn described the malady as a muscle strain in the forearm discovered after Stiever threw a side. Stiever needed to rest for two to three weeks and then start up again, and he’s about halfway through that break.

““Because of those two to three weeks, he's probably going to be a little bit behind to start the season,” Hahn said

“There’s not too much of a concern at all,” Stiever said. “Just sort of making sure, rather than start me up early, just make sure I’m totally fine before I get really ramped up.”

The White Sox also optioned right-handed pitcher Matt Foster to Triple-A Charlotte and optioned right-handed pitchers and to Double-A Birmingham. Right-handed pitcher Ryan Burr, left-handed pitcher Hunter Schryver and infielder Matt Skole were reassigned with Stiever. Schryver had Tommy John surgery this spring.

Those seven moves left the White Sox with 60 players remaining in Major League camp: 32 pitchers, six catchers, 11 infielders and 11 outfielders. Stiever was disappointed in not being able to take the mound, but was happy with the learning experience.

“It [stunk], but it’s also late February and early March and you have to think you are playing for later in the year. It [stunk] but I’m feeling good,” Stiever said. “You can still learn a lot just from watching everything. Still got a lot of productive stuff done even though I wasn’t exactly out there doing everything.”

They said it

“They are a pain in the [butt] for me. But they are good.” -- a smiling on whether and are providing him extra energy in camp

“I’m actually saying right now it’s pretty good.” -- Renteria, when asked if he ever looks at his lineup and thinks it could be pretty good in the future

Up next
makes his second Cactus League start for the White Sox during a game against the Giants in Scottsdale, with a first pitch of 2:05 p.m. CT Saturday. The White Sox used many of their starting position players in Friday’s game against the Cubs, so some of that group might not return for a back-to-back effort at this point of Spring Training. Listen to the game live on Gameday Audio.