CHICAGO – Josh Donaldson‘s intentions were clear as soon as he sat down Wednesday for a Zoom conference call. He appeared on the screen wearing a T-shirt that read, “You Got Something To Say?”
Boy, did he ever.
Donaldson responded to White Sox starter Lucas Giolito‘s criticism of him during Chicago’s 7-6 victory Tuesday. Donaldson homered off Giolito in the first inning and yelled, “It’s not sticky anymore,” suggesting that Giolito had been using illegal substances before the current leaguewide crackdown.
After the game, Giolito responded by saying of Donaldson: “He’s a … pest,” Giolito said around an expletive. “That’s a classless move. If he wants to talk, say it to my face.
“At the end of the night, there’s a W next to my name and they’re in last place.”
According to Donaldson, he had a discussion with Giolito in the parking lot of Guaranteed Rate Field after the game.
“He didn’t have really much to say,” Donaldson said. “He said that he thought I was annoying. I said, ‘So what? I’m on the opposing team. What do you care about me?’ I said, ‘I’m in your face. I’m telling you what I think. What have you got to say about that?’ And he didn’t have any response.”
Donaldson wasn’t done with Giolito’s comments.
“First off, He called me a pest, right? Which is fine,” Donaldson said. “I kinda almost consider that a compliment. You are really not supposed to like me being on the opposing team, so I’m fine with that.”
Donaldson didn’t like being called classless, claiming that what he said was meant to fire up his team. He added that Giolito wouldn’t have cared if he hadn’t been up to something. He also pointed out that Giolito struck out just one batter on Tuesday and wasn’t dominating with his fastball in the top of the strike zone like he has.
“Guess what, Mr. Giolito? Your spin rate is down 200. Your curveball spin rate is down 400 or 500,” Donaldson said. “Your slider is down 200. So, look. If we are going to talk about class, what side are you going to choose?”
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Donaldson said he has a list of 150 pitchers he’s tracked since 2017 who have increased their spin rates, and his goal is just to level the playing field. This week, the Twins are trying to salvage their season, so he’s trying to do all he can to fire them up. He’s trying to get his team out of its own sticky situation.
“I mean, that’s a huge part,” he said. “I’m trying to get our boys fired up and ready to go. We’re at a point in our season which is critical. This is do or die for us, going through this stretch. We’re playing with a sense of urgency right now to go out there and win ballgames. Me talking to my teammates and me trying to encourage them and getting them fired up, that’s part of my job. That’s why I’m here.”
Winder to Futures Game
Josh Winder of the Saints will represent the Twins organization in the Futures Game on July 18 in Denver. The game, for top prospects, will be played two days before the All-Star Game at Coors Field.
Winder, a righthanded pitcher, was 3-0 with an 1.97 ERA in 10 starts at Class AA Wichita before this week’s promotion to Class AAA St. Paul.
Former Twins pitcher LaTroy Hawkins will manage the American League prospects for the seven-inning game. Saints pitching coach Cibney Bello will be the AL’s bullpen coach, and former Twins players Brian Buchanan (Royals Class AAA coach), Jamey Carroll and ex-Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston (Giants Class AAA coach) are also on Hawkins’ staff.
Baseball’s top prospect, Wander Franco, was recently promoted to the Tampa Bay Rays, but the game will include No. 2 prospect Adley Rutschman, a catcher in the Baltimore organization; No. 3 Spencer Torkelson (Tigers infielder) and No. 4 Jarred Kelenic (Seattle outfielder), along with top Royals prospect Bobby Witt Jr., considered a can’t-miss shortstop.
Winder made plenty of progress since being drafted in the seventh round in 2018 out of VMI. His fastball can reach the 96-97 mph range, which has helped his changeup and breaking pitches. In 54⅔ innings at Wichita, he had 65 strikeouts and 10 walks, so his command is a good sign.
In 2019, Winder was 7-2 with a league-low 2.65 ERA for Class A Cedar Rapids. With the 2020 season wiped out because of the pandemic, Winder applied himself during workouts, added some mph to his fastball and impressed Twins officials during instructional workouts. They now have a pitcher who could crack their top-10 prospect list next season — as well as the Twins’ rotation.
“Josh is one of the most diligent workers that we have in the entire organization, said Alex Hassan, the Twins’ director of player development. “He fully took advantage of the time off last season by working his tail off in the weight room and staying consistent with his throwing schedule. He’s worked hard on his delivery during instructional league and we’re seeing the fruits of the labor this season.”