Garcia strives to become better defender

Garcia strives to become better defender

CHICAGO -- Avisail Garcia needs daily repetitions in order to become a better right fielder.

The White Sox need their best defensive outfield in play in order to contend for the American League Central title. And that best defensive outfield does not currently include Garcia.

"That's the tough part," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We are going to have to play with that a little bit and get him out there. He's going to play some right and just get better at it. He'll probably get some left, too."

Garcia became the designated hitter at the start of the season when the White Sox added Austin Jackson into the mix in center and moved Adam Eaton to right. That alignment changed when Jackson suffered a medial meniscus tear in his left knee that has him out for at least six weeks.

With Eaton going back to center, Garcia returned to the field and has not looked comfortable during the Tigers series. He couldn't corral a Miguel Cabrera drive to right in the third inning on Tuesday that resulted in a double, but if caught, might have gotten starter Miguel Gonzalez out of the inning unscathed.

White Sox first-base coach Daryl Boston, who works with the outfielders defensively, believes managing his lateral speed agility gives Garcia the most problems.

"The more you play, the more innings you get out there and the more comfortable you become," Boston said. "He's out here every day whether he's DHing or in the outfield, he's getting his reps during batting practice or in some cases early work. He needs the repetition to be out there more and more and get comfortable with his lateral speed agility more so than anything.

"I think he sees it, but it just takes him so long. He's so big it takes him a second to get in full gear."

Becoming a full-time designated hitter at 24 has been a tough adjustment for Garcia, and the same can be said for shuttling between DH and right field with Garcia at DH and hitting eighth Wednesday. Garcia points out that all he can control is working hard, and as Boston and Ventura explained pregame, the work is not the issue.

They also believe Garcia can become a reliable everyday defensive option in right field. The problem for Garcia, though, lies with whether he matures into that player with the White Sox, who remain in a win-now mode while trying to develop young talent.

"His reaction time is just a second off right now," Boston said.

"You have some younger guys who come up and play and Avi is in the transition of that," Ventura said. "He's still pretty young but he's been up here for a little while now."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.