By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (670 The Score) — When you walk around the White Sox locker room in spring training, you get the sense of the first day of school and students finding their comfort zone among the other new faces. Who sets the tone for that new year always brings different twists and surprises along the way.
In one corner, there’s James Shields, the grizzled 12-year veteran. The other side of the clubhouse features young up-and-comers who hope to be main ingredients of the rebuild.
One such player is 23-year-old Lucas Giolito, who along with fellow youngsters Carson Fulmer and Reynaldo Lopez should comprise three-fifths of the White Sox rotation and be joined by Shields and the returning Miguel Gonzalez the remainder of the staff. Giolito had a successful run at the end of 2017, registering 2.38 ERA in seven starts.
Giolito isn’t shy, and he’s a member of an organization that is empowering its players to be all they can be.
“I don’t feel like a seasoned guy by any means,” Giolito said Friday. “It is kind of cool coming to camp with a little bit of experience and luckily having had a little success in the big leagues last year. Being around all the young guys and hopefully stepping into a bit of a leadership role, I think will be very important. All of us young guys need to be leaders in a sense. If we can learn from the current veteran guys, that will help make the group more special than it is so far.”
Entering his second full season as the team’s shortstop, 24-year-old Tim Anderson has joined Giolito by throwing his leadership hat into the mix for 2018.
“I don’t know what it is, but I do feel I attract a lot of people,” Anderson said of his leadership style. “I love to rub people the right way. I treat people the way they should be treated. I plan to be more vocal and step into the leadership role and lead these guys.”
This type of rhetoric coming from youngsters isn’t common. In some cases, that type of brashness would be considered insubordinate behavior. That’s not the case with manager Rick Renteria and his coaches running the show.
Both Giolito and Anderson have been emboldened and encouraged by Renteria’s style of positive reinforcement.
“We get the message from him about that,” Giolito said. “We get that message from the speeches and talks he gives us before we go out on the field. He motivates us to play at our highest level and ability. He wants to see us have success. We need to be leaders so everyone buys into the team concept.
“Everyone can lead in their own way — either by example or whether you are going to be the guy to stand to stand up and tell people how to do things. If everyone can show leadership qualities, it will make for a better team. We are collectively in this together.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.