Avisail Garcia testament to sticking with plan, Steverson says

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Yolmer Sanchez pours water on Avisail Garcia after the White Sox right fielder went 5-for-5 and 7 RBI against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Thursday. (Getty Images)

DETROIT — Avisail Garcia was just a 21-year-old up-and-coming prospect with the Tigers in 2012 when he played on baseball’s biggest stage.

He probably felt like the World Series would come down the pike on a regular basis.

“You think, ‘Yeah, I’m going to have another one,’ ’’ said Garcia, the White Sox’ All-Star right fielder who hit .261 with a double and four RBI in 23 plate appearances and 12 postseason games in 2012. “But it’s hard. Now I know how hard it is to make the playoffs and World Series. That’s why you have to enjoy it when you get there. Enjoy it.’’

Don’t Sox fans know it. They enjoyed one in 2005, but since then, they’ve been favored with only one playoff appearance, in 2008.

The Sox fell to 60-89, two games behind the Tigers at the bottom of the American League Central, with their 12-0 loss Sunday at Comerica Park.

There is a rebuild plan in place, however, and a stash of well-regarded prospects in the Sox’ farm system bringing hope for maybe, just maybe, another riveting autumn on the South Side. Whether Garcia, whom the Tigers traded to the Sox nine months after the 2012 Fall Classic, is part of the plan remains to be seen.

Garcia says he would like nothing more, but he will be a free agent after two more seasons. He’s playing well enough now, after three disappointing years, to warrant consideration in the Sox’ big scheme of things.

It’s his plan at the plate that has made it so.

“If there were naysayers or questions about what he is or what he’s going to be, he has proved he can play to this level for a long time,’’ hitting coach Todd Steverson said.

Even after Garcia made the AL All-Star team in July with a good first half, he proved the “naysayers,” as Steverson put it, wrong in the second half.

With two weeks left in the season, he’s batting .333, second in the majors behind Jose Altuve, with 17 homers and 77 RBI after having a nine-game hitting streak broken in Matthew Boyd’s one-hit performance three days after reaching base safely six times and going 5-for-5 with seven RBI against his former team in the Sox’ 17-7 victory.

“I mean, I feel great,’’ Garcia said. “Thankful and happy for what I’ve been able to do. But the season is not over yet — got to push to the end and do my best in these last couple of weeks.”

Garcia enjoyed patrolling the same Comerica Park turf in right field during the Sox’ four-game series.

“To play in the World Series there with Detroit was great, man,’’ he said. “I mean, a lot of memories. I always have that good feeling when I’m here.’’

Garcia recalls getting called up from Class AAA Erie on Aug. 31, 2012, and making his debut as a defensive replacement against the Sox.

“That was a long time ago, five years ago,’’ Garcia said. “It’s nice to see old teammates, guys I played with in the minor leagues when I’m here.

“I was a little bit surprised [by the trade], but I understand that one day you’re here, and the next day you can be there. That’s the business of baseball.’’

The business of hitting a baseball seems to have been figured out.

“His swing is the same as the years before,’’ Steverson said. “The approach and understanding it is different. The approach is understanding when I get in this box, what do I want to do, what do I want to see and can I pull the trigger.

“He’s a testament to sticking with a plan.”

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com


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