SAN FRANCISCO — The White Sox know they’re fortunate Avisail Garcia is on the mend, and it sounds as if they expect him back shortly, too.
In the midst of a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte for a torn left labrum, Garcia, who at one point was thought to be lost for the season, could be back later this week, general manager Rick Hahn said on Tuesday. Hahn equates Garcia’s potential return to the lineup and the experienced he’d gain late in the season as “found money.”
Through his first 10 games at Charlotte, Garcia was outstanding. He had a .368/.415/.500 slash line with two doubles a home run and two RBIs in 41 plate appearances. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the club plans to reevaluate Garcia after 50 at-bats. Garcia went 1-for-3 in a rain-shortened game on Tuesday night.
“His body has held up,” Hahn said. “He has made certain plays in the outfield the last few days that have forced him to let it go a little bit. There’s been no setbacks. We don’t have a magic number or magic performance level in mind that he has to hit, it’s more a matter of day in and day out seeing consistent performance and physically feeling strong. So far it has gone well and hopefully we’re coming to an end of it in several days or a week or so.”
While the performance has been more than they could have expected, the White Sox are really pleased with how Garcia’s body has reacted to his first steady playing time since April. The team has equated the assignment to a second spring training so Garcia could build up endurance and also test himself over and over in the outfield.
Even though Garcia is 12 at-bats from re-evaluation, Ventura wants to temper expectations for his return.
“He is getting closer,” Ventura said. "I don’t know if we’re close enough that we’re counting down games if he’s coming back, but you’re wanting him to build up and have enough repetitions that when he comes back he’s not feeling like he’s behind, he’s just playing.”
The White Sox have had a number of evaluators following Charlotte to update them on Garcia’s progress. Reliever Matt Lindstrom also had a chance to see Garcia play every day during his rehab at Charlotte. Lindstrom, who was activated off the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, is excited about how Garcia has looked.
“He looks pretty good going the other way, fastballs inside, and his plate discipline looks like it’s getting better with each at-bat,” Lindstrom said. “I was pretty impressed.”
Hahn is hopeful the early performance continues and Garcia knows what kind of talent he’ll bring back to the White Sox in 2015. While knowing he’s healthy is important, a healed psyche has equal value. Next season’s club would be better off if Garcia knows he’s capable of once again playing like the building block the club believes him to be.
“I do think when the time comes that he gets back to Chicago and gets consistent ABs regardless of what the performance level is, I do think it will be a nice physical as well as psychological benefit to him and that’ll continue to benefit him going into spring training next year,” Hahn said.