Avisail Garcia leading the way as White Sox offense heats up

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OAKLAND, Calif. – The White Sox offense is warming up just in time for summer.

In the last 14 games up through Sunday’s 7-3 victory against the A’s at Oakland Coliseum, the Sox are batting .288 with 32 extra-base hits – 11 home runs – and 68 runs scored.

Spearheading the offensive surge has been right fielder Avisail Garcia.

Sox fans have been waiting some time to see this sort of productivity from Garcia, who is hitting .346 after a three-hit game that included a two-run homer.

Garcia has collected two hits or more in six of the last eight games – seven of which the Sox won. He’s hit safely in 19 of the last 21 games and leads the club in batting average, hits, on-base percentage and multi-hit games.

“I’m just trying to work hard every day. I know the numbers are going to be there,” a confident Garcia said. “I just have to be healthy the whole year.”

Garcia missed roughly four months of the 2014 season after diving arms-first for a fly ball on April 9. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum and an avulsion fracture in his left shoulder, and Garcia wasn’t expected to return at all that season.

But he recovered faster than expected and returned to the lineup Aug. 16. He smacked two base hits and drove in a run in his first game back, but there weren’t too many more highlights for Garcia after that.

The experience he gained after the injury proved to be important all by itself, though.

“That’s the best thing we did, because they expected I wasn’t going to play,” Garcia said. “I came back and saw 160 at-bats and then I played in Venezuela a little bit more, so it’s kind of like 280 at-bats. So that’s pretty good for the injury I had.”

Teammate Jose Abreu went a step further in his praise for Garcia after the injury.

“Last year without him, the season wasn’t good for us,” Abreu said through a translator. “This season, with him healthy, he’s capable of showing what he can do in the field. He’s a very, very talented player. He has five tools, and he has shown it. He made us a better team. I’m very happy to have him here right now for us and the momentum he is giving.”

The Sox acquired Garcia from Detroit in 2013 as part of the three-team deal that sent Jake Peavy to Boston. He spent two months of that season with the Sox and showed flashes of the player he could be, but is now proving with his bat and his health that he belongs, Ventura said.

Garcia said he’s feeling confident at the plate right now and better understands the way pitchers are approaching his at-bats.

That was on display while reaching base four times Saturday, including a two-run, game-tying single in the third inning. He came back from an 0-2 count and saw nine pitches before the key hit.

It was the second time in as many days that Garcia came up clutch. He cranked a two-out double Friday to cap a five-run seventh inning on the way to a 7-6 victory.

“You have to be patient,” Garcia said. “Sometimes that’s going to happen. Sometimes you’re going to strike out. Sometimes you’re going to homer. Sometimes you’re going to hit a base hit. You have to be patient.”

The offense seems to have taken that cue from Garcia, having drawn more walks so far in May as it did in all of April.

The White Sox entered Sunday’s game batting .281 in May with a .345 OBP and 30 extra-base hits.

email: djust@suntimes.com

Twitter: DavidJustCST

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