GLENDALE, Ariz. — Lucas Giolito made it clear what the goal is.
“We want to win a ring. We want to win a World Series.”
To achieve it, there can be no letup, as there was last season after the White Sox — up-and-coming, talented and finally fun to watch — clinched their first playoff berth in 12 years before fading down the stretch and then getting bounced by the Athletics in the first round of the postseason.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say we let our foot off the gas, but it was kind of like a relief, like, ‘We made it. We got in the playoffs,’ ’’ Giolito said Tuesday, a day before pitchers and catchers report to spring training. “And then we all know that we went on a bad [3-9] stretch immediately after that. That was definitely a big learning experience.”
What was learned? Go for the jugular, as shortstop Tim Anderson has been saying and Giolito echoed Tuesday.
“We need to step on throats, we need to try to kill other teams until the very end,” Giolito said.
“Have that killer instinct, that killer mentality as a whole, and we just get the job done. I don’t think there’s any more room for premature celebration, that’s for sure.”
If the Sox keep the pedal to the metal, and if they meet lofty expectations they can celebrate and surpass the Cubs, owners of those 2016 World Series rings, in the Chicago baseball pecking order. Which is far from the place they’ve occupied since backtracking after their own World Series title in 2005.
Are the Sox top dogs in this town? Giolito was asked that point-blank.
“I mean on paper, I guess so, but at the end of the day we have to go and prove it,” Giolito said. “I know that that’s a very important series to the city of Chicago.
“Winning answers everything. Yeah, it’d be cool for more people to care about the White Sox in Chicago. But the only way that’s going to happen is if we win.”
The Sox could have the best starting rotation in baseball, Giolito said, and had one of the elite offenses in the American League last season. But to win a World Series, “we definitely need to improve in a lot of areas.”
“With the player acquisitions [closer Liam Hendriks, starter Lance Lynn, right fielder Adam Eaton were acquired in the offseason] and coaching acquisitions [new faces include manager Tony La Russa, pitching coach Ethan Katz, bench coach Migual Cairo, analytics coordinator Shelley Duncan and catching instructor Jerry Narron], we are already in a really good spot. But the AL Central is no slouch. Other teams have been putting some pieces together as well, so we just have to stay focused on our day-to-day, what we need to do each day individually and as a team to get better.”
The resident ace of a Sox staff that appears equipped to make a run at a title, Giolito oozed confidence without spewing it in over-the-top fashion often heard in the middle of February. The Sox know they look good on paper, and they know they have to build on a 35-25 season that saw numerous young players advance.
“Building the winning culture,” Giolito said. “We had the first steps of that last year but there’s still so much more room to grow. That’s what we are intent on doing. Continuing to grow, get closer as a team, play really really solid baseball. Consistent baseball. And at the end of the day we want to a World Series. That’s obviously the goal.”
The day pitchers and catchers report is the first official marker of camp. The next is Monday, the first full-squad workout.
There will be talk of lofty goals.
“We’re at the point now where the word rebuild is completely out of the vocabulary,” Giolito said. “We’re a very, very good team and we expect to win. That’s pretty much where we’re at.
“The vibe right now is great.”