By Chris Vannini
DETROIT -- In the three-team trade that sent Jake Peavy to the Red Sox, the White Sox received one of the Tigers’ top prospects in outfielder Avisail Garcia.
Garcia went 0-for-2 with a strikeout in his first game with Triple-A Charlotte on Thursday, but he went 3-for-4 with a home run, four RBIs and a walk the next day. He’s hitting .376 with six homers and 27 RBIs between Charlotte and Triple-A Toledo.
“I was surprised with the trade, because they called me on the last day,” Garcia said during a conference call. “I was in Toledo, and I’ve got to move to Charlotte. I’ve got my family here. I’m happy for the trade. This is a new opportunity for me, to be here. I thank God for that. I’ve just got the keep playing hard and try to do something good for my team and help my team win games.”
The piece the Tigers picked up -- infielder Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox -- hit a solo home run against the White Sox in Saturday’s 3-0 Tigers win. Detroit players and management admitted they were only going to give up Garcia if they got something great in return.
“I’ve never been hesitant with (trading within the division),” Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowksi told reporters last week. “That doesn’t faze me. And I fully expect Garcia to be a real good player. I don’t really want to watch him play 18 times a year.
“I’m sure he’s going to beat us at some times during that time period. And there will be times where people say, ‘That Dombrowski wasn’t very smart’ when he does that. But I think it’s more important about the player we got in return.”
Tigers manager Jim Leyland looked at things in terms of Garcia’s opportunity, rather than the Tigers potentially facing him.
“This is competition,” Leyland said last week. “I’m thrilled for that kid. I think he’s got a huge upside. You’ve heard me say that all along. About four years ago, I said he was the best prospect in the organization that I saw, not too long after I got here. I’m so happy for him. God bless him. That’s good for him.”
Despite his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame, Garcia moves well and has been playing center field. He hit .319 in 23 games with the Tigers in 2012 and was hitting .241 in 30 games in 2013. But with that frame usually comes more power, and Garcia is still looking to find that in the majors. Tigers utility man Don Kelly knows the Tigers lost a good player.
“He’s unbelievable,” Kelly said. “You talk about a guy with a high ceiling that can be a starting outfielder for a long time. He’s got all the tools: power, speed, a good arm, he can hit, run, beat out ground balls. He’s a great kid, too. A guy who works really hard. We’re going to miss him.”
Manager Robin Ventura didn’t know if or when Garcia could be called up, waiting to see how things play out. On Sept. 1, MLB rosters expand to a maximum of 40 players, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Garcia on the White Sox roster then.
If you were wondering, the White Sox play six games against the Tigers in September.
“I know it’s going to be hard when the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers play, but I think that’s normal, because this is baseball,” Garcia said. “Whatever happens here, I try to focus on playing hard and helping my team win. Now I’ve got a new team. The Tigers are the past. I’m with the White Sox.”
Rookie catcher Josh Phegley’s Major League career got off to a good start, but things have cooled off considerably since then.
Phegley is on the bench for Sunday’s game, and Tyler Flowers is behind the plate. With it being a day game after a night game, it’s not unusual for the catcher to get the day off, but Phegley has been struggling.
After hitting .282 with three home runs in his first 11 games, Phegley’s average in his past 10 games is .100. He has yet to draw a walk in his Major League career.
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“You get up here and have the euphoria of being up here, and now, the reality of guys having a little more information about you,” Ventura said. “You’re going to need to make adjustments because they’re going to make adjustments to you. The first few games, nobody has that video on you or an idea of what they want to do with you.
“Now, there’s more of a plan, so he’ll have to make adjustments with what most people go through. So for me, the first step was him catching. From there, offensively, just make adjustments. I think it’s there. He’s been able to go the other way. Right now, he’s getting a little pull happy.’’
Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of one of the more memorable fights in baseball history.
On this day in 1993, a 26-year-old Ventura was hit in the ribs by a pitch from Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan. Ventura threw his bat and charged at Ryan.
But the 46-year-old pitcher quickly put Ventura in a head lock and delivered some punches, a clip that is on every baseball blooper reel video.
Last year, Ventura and Ryan shook hands before a White Sox-Rangers game after having not spoken about the incident for years. Ryan is owner and CEO of the Rangers.