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Former White Sox Liam Hendriks, Lucas Gioltio reflect on their South Side stints

The former South Side pitchers talk about the team failing to exceed their competitive window

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Once the White Sox organization realized during the 2023 season that their chances at maximizing their competitive window were little to none, they started dismantling.

They made several trades at the MLB trade deadline, including sending longtime starter Lucas Giolito to the Los Angeles Angels. After the season, they continued, declining to pick up fan favorite Liam Hendriks' club option, along with other cuts from the team.

Now, after moving around, and both rehabbing from separate injuries, both Giolito and Hendriks landed with the Boston Red Sox. They each are signed under two-year deals with the club. And on Thursday, they returned to Guaranteed Rate Field to reflect on their experiences with the White Sox.

Most notably, not maximizing the competitive window in which they took part.

"It was not a fun experience to be around and it was not a great situation to be a part of," Hendriks said. "But it's one of those things where you need to try and climb and you need to get better. ... When you're going through trying times like the last couple of years, you tend to put a little bit too much onus on that every single win is important. You put a little bit too much pressure on yourself in that regard. Whereas if you just be yourself and take every day as it comes it tends to get a little bit better."

After two playoff berths in 2020 and 2021, the White Sox were expected to make a deep run in the playoffs. They had the pitching and power at the plate to do some damage in the American League, and especially in the weaker American League Central.

But in 2022, those hopes didn't come to fruition. Injuries and poor baseball equated to a .500 season, as the South Side finished 81-81 and missed the playoffs. And by 2023, things started to crumble. It was evident that not only was the baseball side of things not functioning, but the culture wasn't, either.

"I showed up to camp last year and I was very excited about the team we had and the talent and what I wanted to do to help contribute," Giolito said. "And, at least, for a little while, it felt pretty good. But then it just became very evident, well, I'm gonna get dealt with a lot of other guys who are gonna get dealt. After that, it was like nothing I've ever experienced before.

"I feel like the culture at the very end started to really ... We were like trying to develop something and it started to really dwindle, which, in my personal opinion was kind of sad to see."

With that, the White Sox started to rebuild. They cut ties with most of the team's star power, entering into a new rebuild under Pedro Grifol, who was hired before the 2023 season, and GM Chris Getz, who the White Sox appointed ahead of the 2024 season.

Getz was the one to let Hendriks know the organization wouldn't be picking up his club option. With Hendriks undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2023, setting him back at least one year, the White Sox didn't see the value in bringing him back to the tune of $16 million.

Hendriks said he was at the White Sox facility when Getz informed him of the decision. It was a quick conversation. And Hendriks started packing his bags after.

"It wasn't a surprising thing to me. I was still hopeful," Hendriks said. "But it is what it is now and I've landed in a great situation to be in Boston is fantastic. It's been awesome. It's a great group of guys."

Looking back, it's tough to grasp missing a competitive window. The White Sox had high hopes of making a deep run in the playoffs, even the World Series. But they didn't.

Knowing he played a part in that failure was tough for Hendriks.

"You got to realize that I was a part of that," Hendriks said. "It wasn't this guy, it wasn't that guy. It was that united group that we failed. We failed the city. We failed the front office. We failed everyone around that fan base. And it's a tough pill to swallow."

For Giolito, contrary to Hendriks, he built up his career in Chicago. After developing in the Nationals organization for the first six seasons of his professional career, he was traded to the White Sox.

He spent 6.5 seasons with the White Sox, earning his first All-Star appearances and finishing in the top-10 of Cy Young voting once (11th in 2021). He also threw a no-hitter against the Pirates, adding the rare feat to his baseball resume.

Chicago holds a lot of memories for Gioltio and he's thankful for the experience, despite the disappointing end.

"I feel like I grew up here," Giolito said. "This is where I experienced the lows of my career and I experienced the highs of my career and I wouldn't trade anything for that. For anything else, I feel like I grew. Obviously, I grew as a pitcher and a baseball player but this is also where I kind of grew as a man. I have so much love for the city. I have so much love for the White Sox organization, the opportunities they gave me."

But, like Hendriks, Gioltio looks back on his final seasons with the White Sox with a sour taste in his mouth, knowing the team missed out on doing something special.

"That's the one regret, or thing I look back on, our times we went through that period and then we had that window where we could have really done something special. We just didn't capitalize on it. That's always something to look back and be like 'Damn, you know, I wish we could have done that.'"

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