Garcia driven to reclaim outfield spot

Garcia driven to reclaim outfield spot

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There was very little offseason for Avisail Garcia after a disappointing 2016 campaign came to a close.

The White Sox right fielder worked hard at his craft, picking up 113 at-bats while playing for Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League. He also got into better shape, dropping from 268 pounds to 258 at the start of Spring Training, and has a goal weight of 248 by the time the team breaks camp.

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"I just take like two weeks [off], then go back to work because I want to improve," Garcia said. "Everyone wants to improve. I want to show myself first, and believe I can do a better job in the outfield, hitting, and everything about baseball.

"It's in myself. I've just got to get better, play hard and play the game the right way."

To say Garcia's time with the White Sox has not exactly gone smoothly would be a bit of an understatement. He was acquired in 2013 as part of a three-team deal with Boston and Detroit as the cornerstone of the White Sox plan to rebuild while trying to contend.

Garcia stood as a projected five-tool piece for the team before Jose Abreu was even in the picture. But a torn labrum and avulsion fracture in his left shoulder suffered while diving for a ball in Colorado cost him much of an important developmental campaign in '14. Eventually, he was pushed from right field to an unwanted designated hitter's role last season.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria spoke during camp about getting Garcia comfortable in right field once again. Garcia believes that move will end up being a good fit for the 25-year-old.

Garcia's running catch

"My real position is in the outfield. I feel better there," Garcia said. "I don't like DH but I don't have control of that, so I just go to do my job.

"When you work hard and put your heart in work, everything after goes well. So you just have to continue to work hard every day. At the same time we have to have fun and play the game."

If working hard matters, Garcia has been putting himself in a good place for success since October. His first meeting with the media Monday was delayed a bit as he spent extra time in the cages, hitting with Abreu.

His power has not been what the White Sox expected, with 39 career home runs and 50 doubles. Garcia's plate discipline also has been an issue over the years, with a .310 career on-base percentage, 369 strikeouts and 96 walks over 1,551 plate appearances. But Garcia has no doubts about producing for the White Sox.

"No pressure. I know I can play baseball. That's what I'm here for," Garcia said. "I just have to believe I can do a good job in right field. I can't wait for Opening Day and play hard and try to win a lot of games.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for 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.