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Avisail Garcia rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, May 20, 2017, in Seattle. (AP)

Slump, sore knee shouldn’t hinder Garcia’s All-Star bid

SHARE Slump, sore knee shouldn’t hinder Garcia’s All-Star bid
SHARE Slump, sore knee shouldn’t hinder Garcia’s All-Star bid

His first slump of any significance and a banged-up left knee that likely will keep him out a couple of days shouldn’t stop right fielder Avisail Garcia’s unforeseen charge to the All-Star Game.

Fan voting for the July 11 event in Miami ended Thursday, with Garcia sitting fifth among American League outfielders as of Monday. Garcia has a chance to become the first White Sox outfielder to make it to the Midsummer Classic since Carlos Quentin in 2011.

Garcia, who is batting .318/.362/.512 with 13 homers and is tied for the team lead with 51 RBI, has mostly steered clear of discussing the game. But on Thursday, perhaps because he was out of the lineup, Garcia admitted that it has been on his mind and that he’d like to take part.

“I would be lying to you if I said no,’’ Garcia said. “Everybody thinks about the All-Star Game. But you’re focused on the game [each day]. I’m not playing today, but if I were playing I’d be focused on the game and doing my best to try and help the team win.’’

Garcia, who was written off by fans and media after hitting .258 over parts of four seasons and topping out at 13 homers in 2015, understood this was a make-or-break season. He changed his diet, lost weight during the offseason and is now more prepared going into each game.

“He’s a little leaner — that helped him,’’ two-time National League All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He’s a little quicker to the ball. He took into consideration where he needs to be. In this game, you can’t take anything for granted. In the offseason, he worked his tail off to get quicker and learned what pitchers are trying to do to him. He’s not missing many of those pitches that he should be hitting.

“He’s exciting to watch, and he’s playing every game like it’s his last game. He’s showing where he wants to be in baseball. It would be a travesty if he didn’t make the All-Star team with the numbers he’s putting up.’’

Garcia said that would be “a big accomplishment that would make me feel proud.’’

However, his most pressing need is getting through a sore left knee that he banged up sliding back into first base in the 12-3 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday. He underwent an MRI exam Thursday morning that showed only minor inflammation, received treatment and hoped to be out only a few days.

The next pressing need is getting out of a 1-for-23 rut which has taken his average to a season-low .318. His average has been below .330 for only nine days this season.

How and if he bounces back will be worth watching.

“When you do start to understand who you are as a player and you make the adjustments needed to take advantage of skill sets you have, it starts to show up in terms of production,’’ manager Rick Renteria said.

“He continues to have a solid routine that has put him in the place he feels comfortable with. He’s starting to learn the league a little bit. It’s one half. We are hopeful it continues throughout the rest of the year and moving forward for his career that he will be this type of player.’’

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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