Lucas Giolito to miss at least two starts for White Sox, La Russa says

DETROIT — A pitching staff already chock full of question marks and stung by the loss of three arms to injury just before the season began will be under even more duress of the worst kind — the loss of its Opening Day starter for at least two starts.

Lucas Giolito appears headed to the 10-day injured list after leaving his Friday start against the Tigers with soreness in his abdomen.

“We’re definitely going to have to replace him with someone,” manager Tony La Russa said Saturday morning. “We just can’t wait.

“Optimistically, maybe [he will miss] a couple of starts. We’re going to miss him.”

All-Star righty Lance Lynn had knee surgery Tuesday and is out for eight weeks. Lefty reliever Garrett Crochet had Tommy John surgery and is out for the season. Righty reliever Ryan Burr landed on the IL this week with a sore shoulder.

And now Giolito, who pitched four scoreless innings Friday, leaving with a 3-0 lead in a game that was lost by the bullpen, will miss two turns in the rotation. Or more.

“That’s optimistic,” La Russa said. “That’s what I was told. I’ll embrace that.”

Dylan Cease starts Saturday, equipped to pitch no more than five innings due to the shortened ramp up of a three and a half week spring training camp. Cease will be followed by Michael Kopech Sunday, stretched out for no more than four innings, probably. La Russa named Vince Velasquez, signed to a one-year, $3 million free-agent deal the first week of spring training, to start the home opener Tuesday against the Mariners. And Dallas Keuchel takes the ball Wednesday.

After that, it’s a “who knows” situation to fill Giolito’s next turn.

“Unfortunate because I really wanted to kick off this year, opening day, kind of set the tone,” Giolito said. “I feel that we were doing that. But it’s just another challenge for us to get through. But I’m very optimistic that this won’t affect my season too much and I’ll be able to get the ball and help the team win games again soon.”

“I felt like a little tweak in my lower left abdomen,” Giolito said. “And we get random little aches and pains while we’re throwing that you kind of just disregard. So I immediately disregarded it. The next pitch, same. Next pitch, same. Just didn’t want to go away, so I had to go and say something.”

On Saturday, Giolito said he felt “pretty good.”

“Not really noticing too much soreness or anything like that,” he said. “It’s a good sign for hopefully a quick recovery.

“From my understanding it’s kind of like a random, freak, weird thing. Doesn’t happen to baseball players very often. Working with the training staff, medical staff, we’ll have a very nice plan of action. Going through the first stage of treatment today. And for me, the biggest thing is getting it right and getting back out there as soon as possible.”

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