Center field belongs to Leury Garcia
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Charlie Tilson’s injury, the trade of Peter Bourjos and Jacob May’s failure to seize the opportunity handed to him out of spring training have left Leury Garcia standing all alone in center field.
Garcia, a multipurpose guy acquired from the Rangers for Alex Rios in 2013, is hitting .275 after going 0-for-3 Wednesday in the White Sox’ 6-1 loss against the Royals.
A career .273 hitter in the minors, Garcia, 26, hit .198, .166, .214 and .229 in his four previous major-league seasons.
In 69 at-bats, the switch-hitting Garcia has two homers, five doubles, seven RBI and eight strikeouts.
“It’s the game time,’’ Garcia said. “I’ve had more opportunities and more at-bats and because of that, more confidence at the plate. When you see more pitches, when you play every day like I have the last couple of weeks, it helps.’’
Garcia is fast, but at times he seems less confident in the field. He has turned the wrong way a couple of times on fly balls over his head and was tentative a time or two about taking charge with the more experienced Melky Cabrera in left and Avisail Garcia in right.
“Yes, absolutely,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “We talked about being the center fielder and being the quarterback. Go ahead and take charge. It’s OK for you to command the ball. Be more vocal, more confident.’’
Renteria said Garcia studies video of his plate appearances, his running and defense every day.
“He studies everything about his game,’’ he said.
That’s a good thing because right now the Sox don’t have many options after Garcia. Adam Engel, the other center fielder with May at Class AAA Charlotte, is batting .167. At Class AA Birmingham, Hunter Jones has been flashy with the glove but is batting .227. And Tilson won’t be ready anytime soon.
Avisail trying to get it right
Avisail Garcia lost 15 pounds in the offseason, and while he is leaner, he doesn’t necessarily look faster to Renteria in right field.
“He’s a big man, and once he gets going, it’s pretty quick,’’ Renteria said. “He can cover some ground.’’
Garcia has worked at shortening his first stride to help himself get going quicker, Renteria said. If he never becomes more than a below-average defender, it won’t be for lack of trying.
“He works very hard at his defensive work,’’ Renteria said.
“He’s doing a lot of little things that make it look clean.’’
This and that
Infielder Yoan Moncada, baseball’s No. 2 minor-league prospect, according to Baseball America, went 3-for-4 for Charlotte, raising his average to .330. Moncada, who has five homers and six stolen bases, has been leading off. He is 15-for-38 during a nine-game hitting streak.
† The four-game series with the Royals concludes with a 1:15 p.m. start Thursday, the Sox’ 23rd game of their first 26 against an American League Central team.
The 10-game road trip ends with three games this weekend in Baltimore, which begin a stretch of 19 of 25 games outside the division.
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