Next step for Avi: sustaining success at plate

Right fielder enjoying career year for rebuilding White Sox

Next step for Avi: sustaining success at plate

CHICAGO -- If Avisail Garcia went hitless in his next 30 at-bats entering Sunday's finale against the Giants, the White Sox right fielder would still be a .300 hitter this season.

Garcia's breakout campaign is all but set, but it's about what can you do next for the team as opposed to solely reveling in present excellence.

That "next' for Garcia figures to be hitting for more power.

He homered in each of the last two games and entered Sunday with single-season highs with 16 home runs, 67 RBIs, 22 doubles and a .497 slugging percentage. The popular request before the season was for the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Garcia to pull the ball more, but he has found success going up the middle of the field, and White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson doesn't want his focus to shift.

"Obviously being a corner outfielder, you would like for that power to be produced a little more. But for me, it's about being a hitter, just learning how to hit first," Steverson said. "Then those tend to come behind it. They tend to come hand in hand. I know he's got a career high in home runs, and he's hit some other balls off the top of walls that could have gone out. He could have more.

"I think if he shifted his focus toward that, it would take away from what he has accomplished this year, in terms of being able to be a productive, consistent hitter in our lineup. He's been able to fill a hole that he has had since the time he's been here, which is, 'Can he hit?'"

Avisail's two-run home run

Garcia is under contract through the 2019 season. The White Sox have to decide how he fits, or if he fits, in the scheme of their current rebuild.

His performance this season would indicate a definite place for Garcia. And Steverson believes the results turned in by Garcia this season are sustainable.

"It's definitely sustainable," Steverson said. "It can be sustainable as long as he understands how the process went. It's always, 'If you made a steak one way and it was a great steak, do you remember how you did it?' That kind of thing.

"That's what it boils down to in this game. Things change from year to year, always adjustments to be made. People will make adjustments against him again next year, and can you stay mentally and physically in the right frame of mind to be able to still go out and do the same things you have been doing?

"There have been stopgaps with a couple of injuries here and there, but he's been able to jump right back on the saddle and do a good job of getting hits. Consistent approaches have been there, not necessarily hits. I don't like to wrap it all up in hits. His knowledge of when he doesn't take them are better."

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.