Lucas Giolito ready to start his Nationals adventure

He has a signed Mace Windu purple lightsaber from Samuel L. Jackson hanging in his room.

He played water polo and occasionally snowboarded in California.

He had never visited Washington, D.C., before July.

He now pitches for the Washington Nationals.

Who is he?

Meet new right-hander Lucas Giolito.

The Nationals’ top selection (No. 16 overall) in the 2012 first-year draft met with the media Tuesday in the Nationals’ dugout, sporting jersey No. 30. The agreement with the Nationals came down to the deadline, and Giolito had to weigh a baseball scholarship offer from his dream school as a kid.

“I had the opportunity to go to UCLA and play for John Savage,” Giolito said. “That was obviously something I heavily considered, but I feel like I made the right decision. The last couple minutes got hectic. I got a little nervous here, but I am glad it worked out in the end.”

Giolito said he got a good feeling from the Nationals from his first visit to the city and Nationals Park in early July.

“I got a chance to visit out here a couple weeks ago and meet some of the guys,” Giolito said. “I think D.C. is one of the best cities I have ever been to. It is unreal being able to see the monuments and meet certain people. It is really cool.”

Giolitothrowingwhitesidebar.jpgGiolito suffered a sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in March and missed the rest of his final high school season, but he said his rehab has been going well.

He said he has not thrown off the mound yet, but he hopes to start bullpen sessions soon.

“The elbow feels really strong, and my arm feels really strong,” Giolito said. “I feel really good about pitching really soon, and we will see how it goes.”

General manager Mike Rizzo said Giolito will leave for the Nationals’ training facility in Florida tomorrow to begin his professional career, and it will give the club a chance to see where the young star is health-wise.

“We will assess him on the mound, and he will have a throwing progression with (pitching coordinator) Spin Williams and (rehab coordinator) Steve Gober,” Rizzo said. “We will create a new pitching plan for him. We will see (to his) progression from flat ground and long toss to getting on the mound and hopefully see some competition, if not in the regular season, then in the instructional league.”

Rizzo said the franchise is not worried about the possibility of Tommy John surgery to repair the elbow. They believe they can rehabilitate Giolito’s throwing elbow through a progressive strengthening program.

“We are going to take rehabilitation rout to it,” Rizzo said. “We expect him to climb on the mound and pitch some type of competitive baseball sometime this year. We are going to take it cautiously because he is an extremely talented young pitcher. We have dealt with these situations before, and we will handle this the right way and do the right thing by him.”

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