White Sox’ Avisail Garcia still looking to find his rhythm

Written By BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter Posted: 09/26/2014, 01:46pm
Array Home plate umpire Mike Winters, left, watches as Chicago White Sox's Avisail Garcia, right, celebrates his ninth-inning solo home run off New York Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) ORG XMIT: NYY114

NEW YORK — Avisail Garcia has some work to do. And his six-plus weeks of unexpected at-bats, thanks to his surprisingly rapid recovery from a torn labrum in his left shoulder, present a perfect chance to get it done.

As the White Sox try to play spoiler against contending teams while at the same time laying the groundwork for next season, Garcia is building his base as he moves toward a projected career as a middle-of-the-order hitter.

In the Sox’ 7-4 loss Sunday to the New York Yankees, courtesy of a pinch three-run home run by Brian McCann in the 10th inning, Garcia homered to right field against closer David Robertson in the ninth. That followed three strikeouts and was his first hit of the three-game series, which the Yankees swept.

That kind of day for Garcia, 23, underscored where he’s at.

‘‘I’ve only played eight games since I got back,’’ he said.

It also pointed to the plate-discipline issue hitting coach Todd Steverson wants Garcia to improve on.

‘‘He’s a big part of what we’re doing here, and to get a chance to get elongated at-bats through September gives him better clarity of what he’s doing going into next year,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘It kind of eases his mind, I’m sure.’’

Big, strong, fast and confident, Garcia looks the part of a rising star. Expectations of what he’ll do in his career are rising. But he has all of 367 career plate appearances under his belt. That’s not much.

‘‘You have to be careful what you put on anybody,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘The almighty and dangerous word of ‘potential,’ he has a ton of it. You still have to go out there and put it on the field.’’

Plate discipline is the thing for Garcia, who knows that pitchers are trying to make him chase offspeed stuff off the plate.

‘‘He’s a strong man,’’ Steverson said. ‘‘His discipline at times can waver, and he knows that. With the type of power he has to all fields, he’s going to be pitched to as carefully as the next guy. Learning to lay off pitchers’ pitches early in the count that could be taken for a ball [is key].

‘‘He’s anxious. He’s young, and that’s typical of young hitters. They want to show what they can do, and it can go in reverse because they go overboard with it. He needs to back it down a little bit and say, ‘OK, let me get the pitches I know I can handle.’ ’’

And if he doesn’t get one, it’s OK to take a walk.

McCann got a pitch to hit in the 10th and hooked it inside the right-field foul pole against Jake Petricka, who had opened the inning with two strikeouts before Carlos Beltran doubled and Chase Headley was walked intentionally. It was the Yankees’ second walk-off victory in the series.

‘‘It was down and in a little bit,’’ Petricka said. ‘‘I shouldn’t have thrown an inside changeup there.’’

The Sox (59-71) appeared headed to snapping a five-game losing streak when Chris Sale was cruising with a 3-0 lead with one out in the sixth. But Dayan Viciedo dropped a deep fly to left-center by Martin Prado for a two-base error. Two hits, two walks and a hit batter later, the Yankees had a 4-3 lead. Because of the error, all the runs against Sale were unearned.

‘‘You have to find a way to get through that,’’ Sale said of the error. ‘‘Unfortunately for myself and my team, I was not able to get through that.’’

A leadoff homer by Alexei Ramirez in the first and a two-run homer by Conor Gillaspie in the sixth helped the Sox build a 3-0 lead.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan

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