Outfielder has worked hard, lost weight in offseason
By Scott Merkin
CHICAGO -- Evaluating Avisail Garcia's bright future simply by judging his past results must be done so with a couple of caveats in mind.
Remember that the talented right fielder had only 51 career regular-season plate appearances before playing his first postseason game with Detroit in 2012. Remember that he missed important development time from April 9 to Aug. 16 last season due to a torn labrum and avulsion fracture in his left shoulder, suffered when diving for a fly ball in Colorado. Remember that Garcia also will be a mere 23 years old when the White Sox open the 2015 season in Kansas City.
But also remember that Garcia somewhat stunned the organization by intensely working his way back in '14, after being declared out for the season. Most of all, remember that the man whose acquisition at the 2013 Trade Deadline signaled the start of the White Sox reshaping has the capabilities of being a top player in the American League according to those who work with him.
"There isn't anything he can't do," said White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams of Garcia. "He's going to hit for average, for power, steal bases.
"He's going to play outstanding defense. And he has a little flair about him, a little fun, and an aggressiveness going first to third and second to home that's like Kirk Gibson's kind of aggressiveness. What else do you want? Just go play."
Williams added that Garcia looks slim and trim, a fact confirmed by anybody who ran into him this past weekend at SoxFest. Garcia smiled and guessed that he dropped about 15 pounds but wasn't as worried about the total as much as how getting prepared will help him.
"I've been eating healthy, working real hard at the gym. I have to be ready for Spring Training," Garcia said. "I can't go there and be fat. So that's what happens. I know I'm skinny."
Garcia knows he's learning on the job, and some of those lessons are gradually taking hold. After starting 2-for-18 playing winter ball in Venezuela this offseason, Garcia finished at .312 with five homers, 22 RBIs and a .528 slugging percentage.
Patience became a virtue for him at the plate, which is an idea hitting coach Todd Steverson has instilled in him over the past few seasons.
"If I don't swing at bad pitches, I have more of a chance," Garcia said. "When I start swinging all over the place, that's when I miss them. I try to swing at good pitches, work my count so I can see the ball better."
When asked what sort of player he could become, Garcia once again smiled and said "a little bit of everything" while making reference to his five-tool talent. A slimmer, wiser and more confident Garcia could move toward that goal this season.
"I don't want to lose speed, I don't want to lose power," Garcia said. "I want to be in the middle. I know I can do a little bit of everything, so that's why I've been working really hard on speed, power, hitting and defense, so I can help my team win."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.