Avi honored to join Latin All-Star history

Avi honored to join Latin All-Star history

MIAMI -- The pride was evident in Avisail Garcia's smile. With White Sox great Luis Aparicio unable to attend a pregame ceremony honoring Latin-born Hall of Famers at Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, the cameras found Chicago's current All-Star.

Garcia pumped his fists and grinned, knowing his name now has a place in a long line of Latin stars to make their mark with the White Sox. In the 88th Midsummer Classic, the White Sox outfielder finished 0-for-2 in the American League's 2-1, 10-inning win over the National League at Marlins Park.

"It's an honor," Garcia said of the pregame moment. "I'm here representing the White Sox, but I'm representing Venezuela, too. It's a special for baseball and for all the Venezuelan people. I have so much pride."

Garcia is the latest Venezuelan-born player to make an All-Star team for the White Sox, joining the likes of Ozzie Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Chico Carrasquel and Aparicio. Carrasquel was the first player from Venezuela to be named to an All-Star team back in 1951.

Latin-born HOFers' first pitch

Even with some recent bumps and bruises -- he has dealt with a sprained middle finger in his right hand and left knee soreness -- Garcia was not content with just being named an All-Star. He wanted to take part in the event. The lone All-Star for the White Sox got that opportunity in the sixth inning, when he took over for Boston's Mookie Betts in center field (a position he had not played in the regular season since 2013).

"I liked it," Garcia said with a wide grin. "He asked me and I said, 'Hey, put me wherever you want. I'm going to have fun, try to do my job and play hard.'"

In the top of the seventh inning, Garcia got his chance to show off his swing in a matchup with Padres left-hander Brad Hand. Garcia saw five pitches, and sent the last one (a 94-mph fastball) rocketing toward left field. According to Statcast™, the liner had an exit velocity of 113 mph (the hardest-hit ball of the night), but it found its way into the glove of outfielder Michael Conforto. Garcia later struck out against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth.

Conforto's nice grab in left

Now, Garcia can focus his attention on getting back on track for Chicago.

In the nine games leading up to the All-Star break, Garcia went 2-for-34 at the plate, marking his first real slump in an otherwise impressive season. The trip to Miami reinforced the fact that -- that mini-drought aside -- Garcia's season has been a special one to date for the outfielder.

During the first half, Garcia hit at a .310 clip with 11 home runs, 17 doubles, 51 RBIs and an .850 OPS. That showing comes after he hit .245 over 120 games last season, making him appear like a non-tender possibility over the winter. Chicago stuck by Garcia, and the outfielder's name will now forever be linked to the White Sox All-Stars who came before him.

"I felt like, 'Wow,'" Garcia said. "It was a great experience. It makes you work harder. I just thank God for the opportunity. I enjoyed this day like it was my last day of my life."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.