‘I have to be better’ in 2023, White Sox’ Leury Garcia says

Versatile IF/OF Leury Garcia batted .210/.233/.267 after signing a three-year, $16.5 million deal.

SHARE ‘I have to be better’ in 2023, White Sox’ Leury Garcia says
Leury Garcia can play multiple positions.

Count Leury Garcia among the sizable group of White Sox on the bounce-back chase in camp.

Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Count Leury Garcia among the sizable group of White Sox on the bounce-back chase in camp. A multipurpose infielder-outfielder with a career .253/.293/.350 hitting line and .644 OPS, Garcia batted .210/.233/.267 with a .500 OPS in 97 games in 2022, his 10th season with the Sox.

“It was not a good year,” Garcia said. “But my body is in good shape. I just have to stay healthy.”

Garcia, 31, has more tenure than any Sox player. He is owed $5.5 million this season and next after signing a three-year, $16.5 million deal before last season, and he will start at second base in the Cactus League opener Saturday. Elvis Andrus was signed to be the every-day second basemen.

“The contract didn’t affect me at all,” Garcia said. “But I have to be better than last year. It’s all about staying healthy.”

With Romy Gonzalez working to diversify his skills and be a similar “Swiss Army Knife” type of player, per manager Pedro Grifol, Garcia should feel someone gaining on him, but his contract affords a measure of protection. It’s not the Sox’ style to cut a player owed money, but Grifol said competition exists.

“I’ve seen Leury play for a while,” said Grifol, the Royals’ bench coach last season. “Leury’s a talented player. For the most part, everybody’s competing here other than obviously our main guys. This is spring training, but there is some competition.”

Garcia, a fleet switch-hitter who plays three infield spots and three in the outfield, is working mostly at second base but also in the outfield. He said he’s feeling well after dealing with lower back issues last season.

‘Opening Day’

Grifol’s starting lineup for the first spring game Saturday (2:05 p.m., NBCSCH, 1000-AM): Tim Anderson, SS; Luis Robert Jr., CF; Yoan Moncada, 3B; Eloy Jimenez, RF; Andrew Vaughn, 1B; Yasmani Grandal, C; Gavin Sheets, DH; Victor Reyes, LF; Garcia, 2B. Lance Lynn is the starting pitcher.

Clean it up

Grifol said “the fundamentals are just OK” in camp thus far.

“They’re not where we want them to be,” he said. “But the effort is there and the attention to detail and the questions, the good questions are there. For me, that’s a really good step in the right direction. There’s some things we’ve got to tighten up, for sure. We’ve got to tighten up as a team and as individuals.”

In his first year as manager, Grifol is e-ager to see his team in game action.

Deals done with 20 players

The Sox agreed to terms on 2023 contracts with 20 players, including first baseman Vaughn for $760,000 and right-hander Jimmy Lambert and outfielder-first baseman Sheets for $735,000.

Also signed: Pitchers A.J. Alexy, Nick Avila, Tanner Banks, Garrett Crochet, Matt Foster, Frank German, Davis Martin, Nick Padilla, Gregory Santos and Jonathan Stiever; catchers Seby Zavala and Carlos Perez; infielders Jake Burger, Gonzalez, Bryan Ramos, Jose Rodríguez and Lenyn Sosa.

The major-league minimum salary in 2023 is $720,000.

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