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Lighter, determined Avisail Garcia gets another shot in RF

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Right fielder Avisail Garcia took about two weeks off during the offseason. He played winter ball in his native Venezuela, worked on his defense and lost 14 pounds before coming to spring training.

Down to 254 pounds, Garcia wants to get down to 248 by the end of spring.

It’s an important year for Garcia, 25, who will be given a chance “to settle into right field,” manager Rick Renteria said.

 

Avisail Garcia reacts after being struck out by Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Cody Allen during the ninth inning of a Sox loss in Cleveland last season. (AP)

Garcia hit 12 home runs, drove in 51 runs and had a .245/.307/.385 slash line while providing below-average defense in 2016, falling short of the high expectations that have always preceded him. Garcia did hit .355 with runners in scoring position.

“I hope we can get him more playing time in right and see if he’s able to go ahead and perform the way everybody hopes and he was expected to previously,” Renteria said.

Garcia is working at it.

“I do my routine every morning,’’ Garcia said. “After practice, I go back to the gym. When you work and believe in yourself, nothing can stop you.’’

Garcia had 124 at-bats in Venezuela.

“I just take like two weeks, then go back to work because I want to improve,” Garcia said. “Everyone wants to improve. I want to show myself first and believe I can do a better job in the outfield, hitting and everything about baseball. It’s in myself. I’ve just got to get better, play hard and play the game the right way.”

Naming rights
The clubhouse has catcher Geovany Soto and left-hander Giovanni Soto. And then there’s Lucas Giolito.

“We are pretty good friends, and it’s kind of surreal he has the same name,’’ Geovany Soto said. “Hopefully, I can get a big check in his name and cash it.’’

Geovany Soto was with the Sox in 2015.

“Feels like I never left,’’ he said.

This and that
The Sox are scrapping the usual intrasquad game before Cactus League games begin Saturday. Manager Rick Renteria said the time will be used on drills instead.
◆ Coach Joe McEwing continues to work with Yoan Moncada, an infielder, on stabilizing his lower half.
◆ Carlos Rodon, easing into the season at a slower pace than teammates, played catch again, but Renteria did not say when he’ll throw his first bullpen session.