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Avisail Garcia out again, but Saturday return to White Sox lineup likely

Avisail Garcia (right) is hitting .362 with an .894 OPS over his last 25 games. (AP)

HOUSTON — Avisail Garcia missed his fifth consecutive start with a sore right knee Friday, but the White Sox right fielder tested it during batting practice and fielding work Friday and was hopeful he would play Saturday.

“It’s very encouraging watching him run around where he is,” manager Robin Ventura said before Friday’s game. “It looks like it would be tomorrow that we would get him in there and having him start again.”

The Sox (21-25) opened a three-game series at Minute Maid Park against the Houston Astros (30-18). Sox rookie Carlos Rodon made his fourth major league start and was opposed by Houston rookie Lance McCullers, who was making his third.

Garcia was batting .362 with four doubles, three homers, 15 RBI and a .894 OPS over his previous 25 games, so his loss has been significant, although J.B. Shuck has been productive offensively with three straight multi-hit games and was 9-for-25 over his last eight games.

Garcia (.327), who is 23, was eighth in the American League in batting average after batting .244 in 46 games last season, a campaign limited significantly by a shoulder injury.

“He’s able to stay in the middle of the field,” Ventura said. “He has a better idea of what guys are trying to do to him. He has better understanding of his mechanics. Everybody goes through their period where they don’t feel that good, but you have to be able to figure it out and get something out of it. I think he’s gotten to that point, where his progression has been accelerated because he got back [sooner than thought] last year [and get valuable at-bats].”

Garcia can’t wait to get back on the field.

“It’s kind of boring.” he said of not playing. “I don’t like to be on the bench. I get too bored. Annoying, too, because I want to be in the field competing and that’s why I’m here. Play hard and play the game. I don’t want to be in the trainer’s room doing nothing. No more trainer’s room and I’ll be happy.”