Notes: Giolito gets opener; Robert rakes

July 20th, 2020

CHICAGO -- Rick Renteria didn’t have to actually speak ’s name to announce the right-hander as the 2020 White Sox Opening Day starter during a Sunday Zoom call.

Instead, the manager opted for some physical comedy involving a Giolito bobblehead to officially break the news.

“I don’t know. I’ll let you guys kind of figure it out a little bit,” said Renteria, flashing a broad smile while moving Giolito’s bobble head across the screen. “Without me saying anything, I’ll just let you figure it.”

Giolito, who turned 26 on July 14, would have been the Opening Day starter on March 26 at home against the Royals had the coronavirus pandemic not shut down the season. Instead, Giolito will face the Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field on July 24 to begin the 60-game sprint.

It’s the first start of what could be a very promising season for a White Sox team moving from rebuild to contention. But Giolito doesn’t exactly see that sort of pressure.

“I'm really looking at this year as an opportunity for us to just take advantage of the situation,” said Giolito during his Zoom call before Renteria made his announcement. “A 60-game season, it's a sprint of a season. I'm not going to put extra pressure on myself or on our team.

“We have the talent. It's just about going out there and playing loose and having fun. That's going to be the best way for us to put ourselves in a position to make the playoffs and [go] even further. And when it comes to game time, it's just about going out there and having a good time with it.”

Over 29 starts last season, Giolito posted a 14-9 record with a 3.41 ERA to go with 228 strikeouts in 176 2/3 innings. He was an American League All-Star and finished tied for sixth in the AL Cy Young Award voting, recording road shutouts of the Astros and Twins, two of the game’s most potent offenses.

Those results marked a complete turnaround from '18, with Giolito not only revamping his delivery mechanics two offseasons ago, but also his mindset and his set workday routine in between starts. Refining this process only can lead to better things for Giolito, beginning with his first career Opening Day start.

“Just sticking to my routine, the routine that works for me, the one that I've been developing over the last few years, day in and day out,” said Giolito, who got up and down six times during Saturday’s intrasquad start and pushed his pitch count over 100. “Putting my work in, knowing what I need to accomplish each and every day to prepare myself for my next start.

“I have it pretty clear cut now. I know what I have to do each day I come to the field, so it's all about just staying focused and getting it done on a daily basis, putting that good work in.”

Related

Robert not a pure power guy
, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 3 prospect in baseball, hit two home runs Saturday night covering approximately 850 feet. His second blast, coming off of reliever Steve Cishek, almost reached the concourse down the left-field line at Guaranteed Rate Field.

But Robert, who hit 32 Minor League home runs last season after not hitting one over 186 at-bats the year before, does not consider himself a pure power hitter.

“I see myself as a complete hitter,” said Robert through interpreter Billy Russo. “Sometimes, when I think of hitting homers, I get too anxious, and that's not good for my game.

“Right now, I'm just trying to make good and solid contact with the ball. That's been my focus during this Summer Camp, and I think I've been able to do that.”

Third to first
• Right fielder has missed the last two games due to being “a little under the weather,” per Renteria.

• Renteria remains hopeful third baseman will get in a game prior to Friday’s start of the season. Moncada returned to the team Thursday after recovering from COVID-19. The White Sox have home exhibitions with the Cubs on Monday and the Brewers on Wednesday, followed by a Tuesday morning intrasquad game.

They Said It
“We are confident that we have the five, and possibly even more.” -- Renteria on his starting rotation, without announcing the alignment behind Giolito.

“There's excitement on our team, across the league, this season. Despite the fact we're starting so late, it's really creeping up on us here. Summer Camp feels like it just blew by, and now we're ready to go. I feel like our team's very prepared to begin the season strong.” -- Giolito.