They want him to play with caution but at the same time the White Sox hope Avisail Garcia maintains some of the aggressive style of play they love— just as long as he slides.
From that standpoint, the White Sox were pleased to see their right fielder slide with his feet out in front when he was thrown out stretching a double into a triple in Sunday’s victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. After he tore the labrum in his left shoulder in April, the result of a headfirst dive for a fly ball in the outfield, the White Sox have pleaded with their second-year player to slide when possible because there’s less chance of a reoccurrence of the injury.
“I'm sure his first reaction probably is to dive,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think that's part of him coming back and just kind of re-programming yourself into sliding that way. I think it's just a little more protection for him. When you start seeing him play and do different things and he's able to react that way, it's gratifying to the fact that he's at least listening. His reactions take over and that's his first reaction.”
Garcia entered Monday’s game with three hits in eight at-bats since he has returned to the lineup.
He knows he wasn’t supposed to be here, that his 2014 season was supposed to be lost after only nine games. So while he admits his first thought was to dive into third base, he quickly remembered what the White Sox have spoken with him about over and over. He feels good that in the first real chance to prove he’s committed to sliding he did.
“I don’t want to get hurt again,” Garcia said. “It goes quickly to my mind.
“You’ve just got to be smart. I don’t have to dive. You’ve just got to be smart and play carefully, a little bit. Don’t try to dive.
“It feels great. Be smart.
“I don’t want to lose aggression on the base. I just want to run and try to be safe, but I’m trying to not dive.”
Ventura doesn’t see it as a drastic change — that Garcia can’t still continue to play at a breakneck pace. As Ventura pointed out, Garcia already knows the consequences of diving versus sliding.
“You just kind of re-program what you're doing,” Ventura said. “You can still go in hard and get there fast by sliding feet first. For him having already had the injury, that's already a step in the right direction. I don't think it's holding him back at all.”