ANAHEIM ― Long before he threw his first major league pitch here five years ago with the Chicago White Sox, Lucas Giolito had formed lifelong memories of Angel Stadium.
As an 8-year-old growing up in Santa Monica, Giolito attended a World Series game between the Angels and San Francisco Giants ― coincidentally, the team he is scheduled to face Tuesday in his home debut.
As a high schooler at Harvard-Westlake, Giolito threw a showcase for baseball scouts at Angel Stadium. He must have showed well; the Washington Nationals chose Giolito 16th overall in the 2012 draft.
The 29-year-old right-hander will try to toss aside these fond memories and warm feelings as he goes about his next start.
“If I let the moment get too big, I feel that’s when I can lose focus on the task at hand,” Giolito said. “It’s all about my preparation leading up to it, going out and executing one pitch at a time. That’s how I like to operate, especially considering my last two haven’t been good.”
Command was an issue for Giolito in his last start, when he allowed nine runs in 3 ⅔ innings in the Angels’ 12-5 loss to Atlanta. He did not induce a single swing-and-miss with his fastball, and only three with his changeup. The Braves connected with every fastball and changeup he threw in the zone and mostly laid off the rest.
Giolito emphasized his slider in his previous outing, his Angels debut in Toronto on July 28. Command was less of an issue, but the Angels gave him too little run support in a 4-1 loss.
Pitching in new-but-familiar surroundings might serve Giolito well. It doesn’t hurt that he has typically pitched well at Angel Stadium as a professional too: 4-1 with a 4.13 ERA in nine starts in his new home park.
“California weather, that’s what I grew up in, it’s what I’m used to,” he said. “I like the mound. I like the feel of the stadium. I’ve always enjoyed it.”
Reynaldo Lopez, whom the Angels acquired along with Giolito from the Chicago White Sox on July 26, was placed on the bereavement list. Manager Phil Nevin said Lopez learned Sunday morning that there was a death in his family, too close to game time for the Angels to summon a relief pitcher from the minor leagues.
“He came in visibly shaken,” Nevin said. “He’s got to go back home and that’s what comes first, more important than here. I told him to take care of what he needed to do. He was obviously upset this morning.”
Lopez is 2-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 47 games for the White Sox and Angels this season.
Nevin wasn’t sure how long Lopez would need to be away from the team. His absence left the Angels with four right-handers in their bullpen for the series finale against the Seattle Mariners: Jaime Barria, Dominic Leone, Jose Soriano and closer Carlos Estevez.
Anthony Rendon made an appearance in the Angels’ clubhouse but declined to update the prognosis on his left shin contusion. The third baseman deferred the analysis of his situation to Nevin.
Nevin said Rendon isn’t doing any activities to ramp up toward a return.
“The injury has to get out of the leg,” Nevin said. “We don’t know how long that’s going to take. This is a significant injury. It’s very painful. There’s certainly damage inside the bone. It’s not broken, but there’s damage inside the bone that’s affecting the way he walks and moves and the way he’s doing everything in daily life.”
Gio Urshela, on the 60-day injured list as he recovers from a left pelvis fracture, said he has been walking without crutches for five days. A free agent at the end of this season, Urshela is said he expects to heal in time to have a normal off-season.
Angels (LHP Patrick Sandoval, 6-8, 4.11 ERA) vs. San Francisco Giants (RHP Logan Webb, 9-9, 3.45 ERA), 6:30 p.m., Monday, Bally Sports West, 830 AM