MINNEAPOLIS — Manager Robin Ventura gave his most definitive take Saturday on Avisail Garcia’s chances of playing for the White Sox again this season, saying he expects the prized 23-year-old right fielder to play by early September at the latest.
“It’s pretty amazing his recovery time, how he looks and how healthy he looks,’’ Ventura said. “I think by September he’ll be playing again this year. Earlier than that, I don’t know, but I expect him now to play here. I wouldn’t have said that awhile ago just because of the prognosis of how long the recovery was going to be.’’
Garcia and right-hander Matt Lindstrom (ankle) will match up in a simulated game Tuesday in Detroit, after which a decision could be made about a minor-league rehab assignment for Garcia. Twenty days would be the maximum length of the rehab, so he could return in August.
“I feel great,’’ said Garcia, who is expecting to play and is just waiting for a green light on a rehab stint. “Everything is good. Just tight, which is normal with the surgery.’’
Garcia tore the labrum in his left shoulder attempting a diving catch at Coors Field on April 9. He was expected to be out for the season after having surgery, but the rehabilitation process went faster than anticipated.
When he comes back, there will be no enhanced risk of reinjury, the Sox say.
“If he goes out and plays with us, there is no more of a risk on that shoulder than there’s going to be a year from now,’’ Ventura said.
Garcia laid out when he got injured. He has been working on feet-first slides in the outfield.
Jones likely out for season
Not as encouraging was the word on right-hander Nate Jones, who has missed almost the entire season after having a microdiscectomy to take pressure off his nerves and relieve back pain. Jones, viewed as a potential closer going into the season, had hoped to pitch again this season, but that won’t happen.
“There’s been enough setbacks that I wouldn’t expect him to be back this year,’’ Ventura said.
Zach Putnam (right shoulder inflammation), who hasn’t picked up a ball since Wednesday, “feels better,’’ saying he expects to be ready before the 15-day disabled-list stint is over Aug. 8. Putnam’s plan is for three days of long-toss progression starting Tuesday and throwing off a mound Aug. 1.
Abreu’s defense improving
Jose Abreu was the designated hitter for the 15th time. Such breaks from being on the field (Paul Konerko played first base) will continue but only occasionally, Ventura indicated.
Abreu’s defense has improved under coach Joe McEwing.
“When he first came up, footwork and things like that weren’t as good as they are right now,’’ Ventura said.
“He’s done a really good job, even picking balls in the dirt. He’s become a lot better.’’
This and that
Pitching coach Don Cooper is showing little improvement with his bout with vertigo, Ventura said, and could miss the upcoming series in Detroit.
◆ The Sox were one of 28 teams who scouted Cuban defector Rusney Castillo’s showcase Saturday in Miami. Castillo, a 27-year-old outfielder, has been compared to Brett Gardner and Kenny Lofton.