GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — After last season, Lucas Giolito was, well, angry. The right-hander packed up that anger and took it right to the gym.
The end result is a slimmed-down version of the 6-foot-6 Giolito primed for what he hopes will be a return to his previous form with the Chicago White Sox.
“I just took last year’s failure as big-time motivation, so I worked really hard in the gym,” he said Saturday. “Kind of revamped, just the focus and attention to every little area when it comes to getting my body in the correct shape.”
Giolito bulked up ahead of last season, and it turned into a disaster. It started on opening day, when he pitched four scoreless innings before departing because of abdominal tightness on his left side.
He struggled with consistency all year long. He finished with a 4.90 ERA and 177 strikeouts in 161 2/3 innings over 30 starts, going 11-9.
In 2021, he had an identical 11-9 record, but he had a 3.53 ERA and 201 Ks in 178 2/3 innings over 31 starts.
When last season ended, Giolito knew he needed to make a change. In addition to his work in the gym, he also changed his diet.
He weighed 280 pounds at the start of spring training last year, and he said he is down to 245 right now.
“Cut down on fat and leaned out some so that I’m, I’d say, more stable, more explosive, more athletic,” he said, “because me as a big guy it’s important to be able to repeat my mechanics and be an athlete as much as I possibly can. So that was a huge focus.”
The 28-year-old Giolito threw a live BP session Saturday. Pitching coach Ethan Katz said he has noticed a difference in the pitcher already this year.
“His body is in a much better spot than it was last year. After everything we went through, that was the goal to kind of get it back to where it’s been,” Katz said. “And you know, he’s in phenomenal shape. His strength numbers are as good as they were last year with all that weight.”
With Giolito struggling, to go along with a string of injuries, Chicago went 81-81 in 2022 and failed to make the playoffs after beginning the season with lofty expectations.
At least with Giolito, the White Sox have seen him bounce back before. He went 10-13 with a 6.18 ERA in 2018, allowing a major league-high 118 earned runs and issuing an AL-worst 90 walks.
He followed that tough year with his best big league season, going 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA and becoming an AL All-Star. He also finished 2019 in a tie for the league lead with three complete games and two shutouts. The next year, he pitched a no-hitter.
Giolito is eligible for free agency after this season, but he said that isn’t on his mind right now.
“Looking around camp, seeing so many guys show up in great shape and watching bullpens and just unreal stuff right now, I feel like our focus is on righting the ship from last year and going out and playing really good White Sox baseball,” he said. “If I do my part doing that, then everything else will take care of itself.”
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