Lucas Giolito Welcomes Don Cooper’s Lessons

CHICAGODon Cooper enters his 15th season as pitching coach of the White Sox, and he has been molding arms in the organization since 1988.

Under Cooper’s watch, White Sox pitchers have made 1,252 quality starts since 2003, the most in the major leagues.

Cooper is very good at his job, and now he will work with 22-year-old righthander Lucas Giolito in spring training. One of three pitching prospects acquired from the Nationals in December for Adam Eaton, Giolito couldn’t wait to get on the mound in front of Cooper.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” the 6-foot-6, 255-pound righty said. “I heard that he does an amazing job with pitchers.”

Cooper’s first order of business with Giolito focused on mechanics.

Last year, Giolito went a combined 6-5, 2.97 in 22 starts, mostly at Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse. He recorded 9.1 strikeouts and 3.4 walks per nine innings.

In two stints with Washington he ran up a 6.75 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. He walked 12 and served up seven home runs.

“I was able to get my feet wet in the big leagues a little bit and kind of understand what it takes to be there, what it takes to stay there,” said Giolito, a Nationals first-round pick in 2012 out of high school in Los Angeles.

“I didn’t pitch well last year at all, especially at the big league level. So it was a huge learning experience—kind of how to deal with failure, how to pick back up after that.”

Giolito said his physicality was actually a hinderance in 2016, especially when it came to throwing his fastball, against which big league batters hit .349 and slugged .730.

“I was struggling with mechanics throughout most of the course of the year,” he said. “I’m a big guy. Sometimes things get out of whack. I believe that I let too much get out of whack.

“So this year, with my training program I’ve been lifting in the offseason and doing Pilates and everything. I’m trying to make sure I can stay as athletic as possible, so I’m able to keep the right delivery more often.”

Giolito could open at Triple-A Charlotte.


Chicago outrighted Kevan Smith to Charlotte. The catcher still attended big league camp as a non-roster player.

Looking for bullpen depth, the White Sox signed righthander Anthony Swarzak to a minor league deal and invited him to big league camp. He went 1-2, 5.52 in 26 relief appearances with the Yankees last season.

— Scot Gregor covers the White Sox for the Daily Herald

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