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Fried’s World Series performance motivates White Sox’ Lucas Giolito

There were lots of takeaways from the 2021 season and the exit from the ALDS, Giolito said. “As a team, we will use that as more fuel for next year. We’ll definitely come out a lot more prepared for playoff baseball.”

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Watching former high school teammate Max Fried pitch six scoreless innings and win Game 6 of the World Series — from Minute Maid Park where he and the White Sox didn’t fare too well in the ALDS, no less — only fanned right-hander Lucas Giolito’s burning flame to take the Sox to the next level.

“Just seeing him go out there, a dream come true for him and very motivating for me,” Giolito said Thursday. “I’m a little jealous.”

Giolito and Jack Flaherty, who also pitched with Fried on the same team at Harvard-Westlake (California) High School, watched from a suite in Houston as Fried led the Braves to a clinching victory Tuesday.

The World Series atmosphere gripped Giolito, who gave up four runs in 4 1/3 innings in a 9-4 loss to the Astros in Game 2 of the ALDS.

“Mostly just the feeling of like, ‘I really want to be here at this stage,’ ’’ he said. “My playoff start didn’t go well, that series for us didn’t go well. There’s a lot of takeaways from it and we as a team will use that as more fuel for next year. We’ll definitely come out a lot more prepared for playoff baseball.”

Giolito almost didn’t get to Houston, recovering from a bout with the coronavirus in time to make the trip. He and his wife, Ariana, both vaccinated, are doing well now.

Giolito touched on a number of subjects on a Zoom call, including the possibility of a long-term extension with the Sox, although he said no talks are currently taking place.

“I mean, I’m open to it,” said Giolito, 27, who hits free agency after the 2023 season. “I’m always interested in a long-term contract, something where, essentially make me a White Sox player for life. But the business of baseball is the business of baseball. A lot of that’s out of my hands so for the time being I’m just going to focus on what I focus on, which is getting better, especially in the offseason right now.”

As the Sox’ player representative, Giolito is more locked into the business of baseball with the collective bargaining agreement expiring Dec. 1 and fears of a lockout felt around baseball.

“That’s definitely something huge coming up here soon,” Giolito said. “We’ve been having tons of meetings, union, MLB, been working through things. Both sides, we want to get something done. No one wants baseball to stop. That’s not what either side wants. So, just got to continue to work through the negotiations and find some common ground.”

As a team that will be favored to win the AL Central again, the Sox certainly don’t want baseball to stop. Giolito echoed Yasmani Grandal and manager Tony La Russa saying the 93-win season and ALDS loss in four games were educational, and that the Astros’ experience was apparent.

“We got our key guys back [from injuries] and we were in a really good spot,” said Giolito, the Sox’ best starter during the second half who finished with an 11-9 record and 3.53 ERA. “We got some valuable experience in the postseason. We definitely did not perform how we wanted to, so that was a letdown, but that’s just more motivation. Every single guy that was part of that postseason run for us learned something, and it’s something that’s going to continue to drive us and make us hungrier for more.”