Lucas Giolito tugged on the red Washington Nationals cap and buttoned up a No. 30 jersey over his light-blue checkered collared shirt. He didn’t mind the extra layer, even in the oppressive D.C. heat.
The power pitcher had trouble not smiling on his first full day as a member of the Nationals. Having taken his physical Monday, Giolito, the Nationals’ first selection in the 2012 draft, No. 16 overall, finally allowed his mind to move past the what-ifs that come from deciding whether to turn pro or go to UCLA.
On Tuesday, he began to focus solely on when he might be back inside Nationals Park as a member of the active roster, not just the organization.
“Being able to wear this jersey, wear the hat, it makes me feel like part of the team,” The 18-year-old California native said. “It makes me want to work that much harder to get up here as soon as I can.”
Giolito, who missed most of his senior season at Harvard-Westlake High school with a sprained ulnar-collateral ligament in his right elbow, is not to the point in his rehab where he’s throwing off a mound yet. He will leave for Viera, Fla., on Wednesday and be evaluated by pitching coordinator Spin Williams and rehab coordinator Steve Gober. From there, the organization will meld his current rehab plan with the one they develop.
“We’ll create a timetable to see his progression go from flat ground to long toss and getting on a mound,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “And hopefully to see some competition, if not during the regular [minor league] season, then in instructional league.”
Giolito said Tuesday that his elbow feels “feels really good right now,” and the Nationals currently have no plans to explore Tommy John surgery. If that becomes necessary, though, Rizzo noted that it’s not a process they’re unfamiliar with.
“We’re going to take it cautiously because he’s an extremely young, talented pitcher,” Rizzo said. “We’ve dealt with these situations before, and we’ll handle it the right way and do the right thing by him.”
Just being in the dugout Tuesday, was enough of the “right thing” for Giolito, who brought his mother, Lindsay Frost, his father, Rick, and brother Casey, 13, along this time.
Giolito made his first trip, this one solo, to Washington about a month ago as the Nationals gave him their best recruiting pitch. As time ticked down Friday and the deadline for him to sign neared, he kept in mind the impression the team and the city made on him.
While his mother walked around the house with a windex bottle cleaning anything she could to pass the time, Giolito went through his usual rehab in the morning and then put faith in the process. There wasn’t much certainty until roughly 30 seconds before the 5 p.m. deadline — “It got a little hectic,” he conceded — but “for the most part it went really well. And I’m glad it all worked out in the end.”
Giolito, who turned 18 a day later and spent the weekend celebrating with his family and friends, is well-spoken. Despite his Hollywood profile — a grandfather who was in “Seinfeld,” a mother who’s been in movies, plays and television shows, a software-developer father who said his acting career lasted “about a minute,” and a relationship close enough with Samuel Jackson that the actor was giving him a shoutout on Twitter this weekend — D.C. had him in awe.
“I think D.C. is one of the best cities I’ve ever been to,” Giolito said, his first visit being in June. “It’s unreal. Being able to come here, all the monuments and all that, those are only things I’ve seen on TV and the Internet. Being able to like walk up to it and see the memorial, see the monuments, it was an awesome experience.”
Notes: Drew Storen (bone chips) is scheduled to pitch another rehab inning for Single-A Potomac on Tuesday night. Chien-Ming Wang is scheduled to pitch for Potomac on Wednesday and Chad Tracy (adductor tear) will continue his rehab with Potomac on Thursday. Outfielder Jayson Werth (broken wrist) is expected to be cleared to resume baseball activities this week and is aiming to return the first week in August.