White Sox’ Lucas Giolito doesn’t need contract year for incentive, but it can’t hurt

The leaner, lighter right-hander came to camp ‘‘in phenomenal shape.’’

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Lucas Giolito came into camp at 245 pounds.

Lucas Giolito at White Sox camp Saturday in Glendale, Ariz. (John Antonoff/For Sun-Times)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — This well might be right-hander Lucas Giolito’s last season in a White Sox uniform. There’s no avoiding the reality that he will be pitching for a new contract as he hits free agency after the season.

That might be a good thing for the Sox. They know Giolito will be motivated by the nine-figure contract that would be in reach should he return to his form of 2019-21.

But to know Giolito is to know he’s not the sort who needs a contract year for incentive. He beat himself up after every poor outing last season, when he posted an 11-9 record and a 4.90 ERA.

‘‘He’s the type of guy [that] if [there’s] something he’s not happy with, he’s the first one in my office the very next day,’’ pitching coach Ethan Katz said. ‘‘He’s very hard on himself. And he works extremely hard, and that’s why he’s probably so hard on himself. He wants to be really good, and he wants the results now.’’

Thinking a bigger body would benefit him, the 6-6 Giolito gained 20 pounds and came to camp at a bulked-up 280 pounds last spring. He suffered a strained muscle in his lower abdomen on Opening Day.

Wanting to be ‘‘more athletic’’ this season, Giolito ate better and hit the gym during the offseason.

‘‘His body is in a much better spot than it was last year after everything we went through,’’ Katz said. ‘‘That was the goal — to get it back to where it’s been. And he’s in phenomenal shape. His strength numbers are as good as they were last year with all that weight.’’

Now it’s a matter of the Sox making sure Giolito doesn’t overwork himself during camp.

Whether Giolito’s new physique translates into a cleaner delivery and mechanics and increases in velocity remains to be seen. There are numerous factors involved.

‘‘It’s still early,’’ Katz said. ‘‘Guys are still building up.’’

As a team, the Sox say they’re motivated after their disappointing 81-81 season in 2022. Giolito is part of large pack of individuals in that regard.

‘‘I just took last year’s failure as big-time motivation,’’ said Giolito, who finished sixth, seventh and 11th in American League Cy Young voting in 2019, 2020 and 2021. ‘‘So I worked really hard in the gym [and] kind of revamped the focus and attention to every little area when it comes to getting my body in the correct shape, so my muscles are strong [and] loose and I’m able to explode when I want to.’’

As for his next contract, Giolito — who will be paid $10.4 million this season — said he isn’t dwelling on it.

‘‘If that’s something that’s on my mind, I can start to add pressure on myself that I don’t really want to add,’’ he said. ‘‘We already have enough in the sense of what we want to do as an organization, as a team, coming after such a disappointment last season.

‘‘Looking around camp, seeing so many guys show up in great shape and watching bullpens and just unreal stuff right now, our focus is on righting the ship from last year and going out and playing really good White Sox baseball. If I do my part doing that, then everything else will take care of itself.’’

New manager Pedro Grifol, who is eyeballing the Sox’ roster up close for the first time, said Giolito looks very confident. On Saturday, he pitched to live hitters.

‘‘He toed that rubber and was in command,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘He did a great job this offseason in putting himself in tremendous shape. He looks strong, he feels strong. Now it’s just a matter of building his work capacity up and his baseball-work capacity. He’s going to be in a really good spot.’’

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