(CBS) As the White Sox have embarked on their rebuild in earnest, many eyes will be on their young pitchers, which also means the man tasked with leading them will be in the spotlight.
And you can bet White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper is anxious to work with the likes of 22-year-old right-hander Lucas Giolito, 20-year-old right-hander Michael Kopech, 23-year-old Reynaldo Lopez and others. While disappointed to see ace left-hander Chris Sale go, Cooper understood it was time for a change.
“Things happen, things change,” Cooper said on the Mully & Hanley Show on 670 The Score on Wednesday morning. “We had to make a change. We did. He’s gone — disappointed. But I’m also very excited … because of all the names we (got back).”
Giolito should have a chance to earn a spot in the White Sox’s rotation in 2017 — especially so if left-hander Jose Quintana gets traded before the start of the season. Giolito struggled in his initial big league stint with the Nationals in 2016, registering a 6.75 ERA in 21 2/3 innings, but Cooper has no qualms about youngsters struggling early.
“He’s a young kid with good stuff,” Cooper said. “That’s kind of the direction we’re going. We traded a couple guys and are getting some good, young talent to fill our system as well as our big league team at some point in time.
“He did have a bit of a rough go in his short stint in his first attempt at the big leagues, but I’ve said this before, it’s a rarity when you see a first-time guy come up and grab the fast ring the first time around the merry-go-round and the rest is history. It seems like you take a few lumps and you give a few lumps before you turn out to be the guy everybody’s hoping you to be.
“You got to get experience. You got to learn the ropes. You got to get the lay of the land is maybe the best way for me to describe it.”
A couple years younger, Kopech isn’t quite as far along as Moncada, as he’s expected to start the season at high Class-A or Double-A, general manager Rick Hahn has said previously. Nonetheless, Cooper is excited to get a chance to watch him throw live.
“We’re hoping he’s going to turn out to be a top-notch guy,” Cooper said. “He certainly looks like one arm-wise, arm strength-wise.”
Listen to Cooper’s full interview below.