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Giolito Cometh In The Morning, Breaking Down the Meaning of the Red Sox New Pitcher

What’s behind the name “Giolito” and what can he mean for our team and city?

MLB: Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit right now that as someone with a background in language and fine arts, I am a words-and-pictures nerd. In an earlier era, I taught art and art history in Italy and developed enough language proficiency to joke and dream a little bit in Italian. So I got a good chuckle when Signore Dan Secatore, in an article on this site, made his own joke by pluralizing Lucas Giolito’s name, in proper Italian, to Gioliti.

This isn’t a word I knew, even though it looks related to common ones like Giovedì (Thursday) or gioielleria (jewelry). I got the itch to look it up, and my phone gave me a one-word answer that made my heart honestly kind of flutter a little bit: rejoice.

Screenshot of Google search that identifies “rejoice” as the English translation of the Italian word “giolito.”

I told you, I’m a language nerd, so I needed to know more. Googling ensued, but my next search told me that the Italian verb for rejoice was rallegrarsi, which obviously looks nothing like Giolito. Huh?

Then I came across gioire (much closer) but you can’t make Giolito out of gioire. I mean, where’d the L come from, and the conjugation ending’s not right, either. More furious searching ensued. It’s not a common word—it’s not even a common name—but I finally tracked it down. A family gelato business told me that giòlito comes from Old Italian and means “joy and pleasure.” I found an Italian dictionary from 1612 that backs this up: giolito means joy.

Silly, isn’t it, to think a season, or outlook, can turn on one word, but somehow Lucas Giolito’s signing has opened a window to hope and optimism for me. On-field, his signing has been the pinnacle, so far, of a handful of impressive moves by Craig Breslow: dealing away Alex Verdugo and Chris Sale, and signing Tyler O’Neill, Vaughn Grissom and now Giolito. Rumor has it that Breslow’s not done yet, and this makes sense. The Red Sox have been tied to Teoscar Hernández, and there’s been talk about jettisoning salary in order to make additional moves. If Teoscar comes aboard, that would increase the outfield logjam, so it stands to reason that someone else would need to move...could that mean even more pitching? Giolito’s signing has made me hopeful for what’s to come in this regard. Breslow has already shown he can get creative and close a deal.

Off-field, I’ve pined for institutional change before. For a long time now, I’ve simply had it with Matt Dermody’s homophobia and the odious Chaim Bloom supporting him in that, Chris Sale’s ridiculous clubhouse-trashing (and the jersey vandalism which predated this— years ago, when he wore the other color Sox), Verdugo’s petulance and pettiness, Sam Kennedy’s secrecy, John Henry’s disappearance from the scene. I’d originally hoped that a new attitude might arrive with a new Chief Baseball Officer, but I didn’t envision it arriving in the form of a player.

And I’m rejoicing because I’m getting what I asked for. At least I think I am, at least a little bit, in Lucas Giolito. And a little bit goes a long way with me. Although there are questions, most recently related to his second-half stats in 2023, I’m not too worried. As Jacob Roy wrote, he played for three teams in six weeks; imagine that kind of upheaval and stress! On top of that, Dan Secatore noted that Giolito went through a divorce last season, and anyone who’s gone through that hellfire knows the toll it can take.

Giolito has addressed some of the concerns and has sounded committed in everything he’s said since joining the team: he was “sold” on the Sox from the get-go, he’s working out, conversing with pitching coach Andrew Bailey already, and planning on being a workhorse in the coming season. He’s looking forward to his parents, who live in upstate New York, attending his home games more frequently now.

I care deeply about the fanbase…you’re never going to see me slacking off or getting lazy or not caring. I will work my (butt) off to do everything I can to provide the organization I’m playing for and therefore the fanbase the best version of myself. – Lucas Giolito

He’s clearly a guy with something to prove, and he knows where he needs to go and how to get there.

Rejoice!

Off-field, he’s made various strong statements in support of Black Lives Matter as well as ending gun violence. I tip my hat to him for holding these conversations in what he acknowledges is a fairly conservative sport, and it’s important to note that some of these efforts have been in collaboration with his White Sox teammates.

He has continued to stand by his beliefs, as well as flesh out the nuances. And the thoughtful way he’s framed his statements is important to me. One thing (of many) that rubbed me completely the wrong way with Dermody was how he tossed off inflammatory, hateful comments in short tweets, then deleted them when he got in trouble. Giolito, on the other hand, has taken the time over and over again, on social media, in interviews, and in conversations with teammates, to ask questions, explain a well-reasoned position, and to walk the walk. That warms my heart.

As he told MLB:

I really do believe in this era of social media, people with platforms even making a statement where it’s like, “Hey, I didn’t know about this. I’m learning. I want to learn. I want to grow. I want to be a part of this, be a part of a positive change,” that speaks volumes. – Lucas Giolito

It speaks volumes, for sure. Here is a man who understands how to wield a social media post and the power it can have on those who read it.

Joy!

I’m looking forward to seeing him return to earlier form (2019-2021), when he received Cy Young votes every year, when he threw at least 170 innings, and when his strikeout rate was above 28%. I’m looking forward also to seeing him model values of collaboration and tolerance in our clubhouse and in our city.

Giolito. Joy. Pure joy.