DETROIT — April is in the books for Avisail Garcia, who ended his booming month quietly Sunday with a foul pop-up and strikeout before leaving with tightness in his left groin. The White Sox lost to the Tigers 7-3, snapping their winning streak at six.
Slick conditions on a damp 48-degree afternoon prompted manager Rick Renteria to pull his right fielder and get a case filed for American League player of the month. The idea was to have Garcia ready for Monday, the first day of May, when the Sox open a four-game series in Kansas City.
“It was a little tight,’’ Garcia said. “They took me out for precautionary [reasons]. I can run but not 100 percent. That’s a smart decision. I don’t want it to get worse.’’
Garcia is a guy the Sox want to keep healthy. He finished April with an AL-best .368 average, five homers and 20 RBI and ranked among the league leaders in several other categories. Mike Trout is also up there as a player-of-the-month candidate, and the superstar center fielder figures to rate an edge, but to be mentioned speaks volumes about the strides Garcia, 25, is making in his third full season — a campaign viewed as make-or-break for the Venezuelan.
Garcia’s teammates rode him to a somewhat surprising 13-10 record in April and will continue to pull for him, too.
“He is a hard worker, and he likes to learn,’’ teammate Melky Cabrera said. “He’s always asking for advice and is open to suggestions, too, and that’s very important for a young player. I know he has been around for a while, but he’s a young kid.’’
Garcia, called ‘‘Little Miggy’’ while a Tigers teammate of two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera, hadn’t lived up to loftier expectations after Detroit traded him to the Sox, but Cabrera says Garcia held up through that because of management’s continued support. He says the current clubhouse mix and chemistry serve Garcia well, too.
“The group of guys we have is good for him,’’ Cabrera said. “It’s a nice group of guys. We try to help each other. I’ve tried to help him, [Jose] Abreu has, too, and he has been very receptive. That’s good.’’
The Sox were aiming for their first sweep of a three-game series in Detroit since 2008, but Miguel Gonzalez (3-1) got roughed up for a career-high 14 hits over six innings. Justin Upton homered, former Sox catcher Alex Avila and Nick Castellanos had three hits each, and Jose Iglesias drove in three runs.
“I was up with every pitch,’’ said Gonzalez, whose ERA climbed from 2.00 to 3.27 with six earned runs allowed. “My cutter, my curveball, my fastball.’’
Jordan Zimmermann gave up three runs in five-plus innings for the Tigers. Todd Frazier’s homer knocked him out. With Garcia gone in the fifth, the Sox’ comeback punch wasn’t the same.
Garcia hit when it mattered in April — a .405 clip with four homers and 19 RBI with runners on base. With two outs and runners in scoring position, he was 6-for-12 with two homers and 12 RBI, and in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, he batted .423 with 12 RBI.
“Everything is a process,’’ Garcia said. “Every year you try to get better. I’m thankful for the great support. I want to have success here and stay here for a long time.’’
“He’s very confident right now on the field,’’ Cabrera said.
“The team never quit on him, and I think he knows that.’’
Garcia wouldn’t be the first player to excel for a month and regress back to norms. He says he won’t get overly excited about this or get too low if and when things decline.
“Nope, stay in the middle,’’ Garcia said. “Like always.’’
This month, though, was something to build on.
“Yeah,’’ Garcia said. “Keep working. Five months to go.’’
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