GLENDALE, Ariz. — The White Sox’ first day of spring training came with news no one wanted to hear: Three key players — catcher Yasmani Grandal, right-hander Lucas Giolito and left-hander Gio Gonzalez — are dealing with injuries, although general manager Rick Hahn called them “minor” and said each is expected to be ready by Opening Day.
Even if they are temporary setbacks, trainer’s-room news served as something of a buzzkill for a team that won an offseason with the additions of veteran pieces to complement its talented young core.
Here is the rundown Hahn gave Wednesday in his first remarks of camp: Giolito has a strained chest muscle in his rib cage, Grandal strained his left calf working out in the weight room about 10 days ago and Gonzalez has discomfort in his throwing shoulder.
Grandal caught sideline sessions Wednesday and quickly brushed off any level of concern, saying he is not worried. Giolito threw from 120 feet and said he “felt fantastic” and is “zero percent” concerned. Gonzalez’s issue is less clear. He did not talk to reporters after the Sox’ first throwing sessions, for which he was on the field but didn’t throw.
“When [Gonzalez] was at home two or three weeks ago doing his throwing program, he felt a little discomfort in his shoulder, so we slowed him down,” Hahn said. “We got him treated up, he showed up here feeling great, but, again, due to the missed time, he’s a little bit behind as well.
“We anticipate him being ready to go when the bell rings at the end of March.”
Giolito missed SoxFest with the flu, and when he recovered, he said he tried to ramp up his throwing program too soon, resulting in the strain.
All three will miss the first week of Cactus League games, which begin Feb. 22. Giolito and Grandal, whose four-year, $73 million contract signed in the offseason is the richest in club history, are the likely Opening Day battery. Gonzalez signed a one-year, $5 million deal.
Giolito seemed unfazed and upbeat, doing his part to shift the narrative away from the setbacks and back to the feel-good vibe and playoff aspirations after a 72-89 season.
“It’s very realistic because the young guys, we’ve been growing and learning for a few years now to the point where, ‘OK, we’re ready to put it together,’ and now we have a bunch more help thanks to the acquisitions this offseason,” Giolito said. “It’s just about everyone buying in, being on the same page with the direction we’re going and just playing consistent baseball.
“Obviously, the talent’s there.”
Rick Renteria has more talent to manage than he had in one year with the Cubs and three with the Sox. He likes hearing players say ‘‘playoffs or bust.’’
“Absolutely,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘I’d be lying if I said I’m OK with [not making the playoffs]. I’m not OK with it. We want to play to put ourselves in position to get to the dance. That’s what it’s about.”
Hahn welcomed Renteria and his players’ “time is now” battle cry but acknowledged the rebuild is not complete after three years.
“Getting to the point as an organization where we have the depth to withstand [injuries], that is probably the final element of bringing this thing all together, and that’s still going to take a little bit of time,” Hahn said.
“I’m not to the point where you are walking in here feeling like mission accomplished or something like that.”