By: Matt Calvert
I caught up with Gold Sox starting pitcher Justin Giovannoni about his goals for the season, working on his secondary pitches, and his favorite baseball memory.
Like his teammate, Chris Papapietro, Giovannoni joined the Gold Sox through new Manager Mike Walker who is the Director of Baseball Operations at the University of the Pacific where Justin goes to school. Said Giovannoni, “Walker was my coach in college and we are really close. I was hoping to play for Walker, and after my head coach and I talked it over we figured it would be a good thing for me going into next season.”
Justin has played in a summer league before, but he says the Great West League is different. “The Great West League is a big leap for me. There are a lot of good players and it’s similar to college in its competitiveness and atmosphere. I played summer ball last year, but there were no playoffs, and I’m looking forward to playing for something. I want to win the playoffs and win a championship.”
Besides winning a championship with his teammates, Giovannoni also has personal goals for the summer to keep developing as a starter and to improve his secondary offerings. “My goal for the year is to get more innings under my belt and develop my offspeed pitches.” In the past, Giovannoni described himself as more of a thrower than a pitcher, but he is working on mixing his pitches more to last longer in his starts. Justin throws a four-pitch mix with a Fastball, Changeup, Slider and Curveball. “I’m trying to tune up all my offspeed pitches and working on throwing my changeup more. I want to make that a better pitch in my arsenal.”
Justin has also been fine-tuning his routine and how he prepares for a start. “I start off the week with a throwing routine. Throwing a little further and further each day leading up to my start. Then on the day of my start I show up to the field around 1 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game. Mentally I’m preparing for my start around then with my headphones in for an hour to get into the zone. I’ll eat at 4 p.m. and then I’m ready to go by game time.” And if the headphones are in, then Justin is looking to lose himself in the moment. “There is a lot of Eminem on the playlist. It fires me up and gets me in the zone.”
The Great West League is a summer league, meaning players come from all over the United States (and even the world) to play baseball and hone their skills. Giovannoni hails from Stockton, but has been living with a host family in Marysville over the summer. “Living in Marysville with my host family has been awesome. They treat me really well and have brought me in like I’m their own. It’s always tough going into a new place, but they’ve been really welcoming.”
Giovannoni, like most of his teammates, has been playing baseball his whole life, and he told me about how much playing the game means to him. “My favorite baseball memory was making my first collegiate start. It was a big moment in my life; I worked hard and finally made it there. I got to start against Stanford my freshman year and it was my childhood dream coming true. You work so hard and to finally get there, it stood out for me.”
And Justin wanted to pass on one final thought to the fans for the weekend: “I just wanted to say thanks so much to the fans for coming out and watching us play. You guys help a lot.”
The Sox will start a three-game series against the Sacramento Stealth at home tonight at 7:05 p.m.