CLEVELAND — Similar to Jose Abreu’s earlier comments about his uncertain future, Avisail Garcia reiterated he wants to stay with the White Sox.
The 2017 All-Star — who didn’t appear in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians — loves the direction in which the White Sox are headed.
Garcia is a fan of the culture instilled by manager Rick Renteria. He believes it has had an impact on his breakout season. And he’d love to be on the South Side when the White Sox eventually turn things around.
“Everybody wants to be a part of a winning team and I want to be a part of this team forever,” Garcia said. “I love this team. I love the coaches. I would like to stay here.”
Garcia’s breakout performance certainly has him in a much better position to stick around than he was in heading into this season. He might not have been afforded the opportunity to stay in 2017 had the White Sox chosen to compete.
But once the exodus began, the White Sox figured they’d give Garcia one more chance and it has paid off handsomely. Garcia, who lost approximately 18 pounds in the offseason and has maintained it, produced a career year. He hit .330/.380/.506 with 18 home runs and 80 RBIs in 561 plate appearances and played well in right field. He reduced his strikeout-rate to a career-low 19.8 percent, produced a ridiculously high .392 average on balls in play and finished the season worth 4.2 f-Wins Above Replacement. Optimistic as Renteria is, even he couldn’t see this kind of season from Garcia.
“I did not,” Renteria said. “I saw him improving.
“He came in very fit, and you also saw how committed he was to everything that was going on. He put together the first half of the season that was a little bit of a surprise. But not really because this was his fourth year in the big leagues. It takes a little time for people to settle in. And then our question was, is he going to be able to sustain this after the All-Star break? And he certainly has.”
“Is he always going to be a .330 hitter? I don’t think so. But he certainly has shown me that he has the ability and the approach that might potentially let him be able to do that if he stays consistent.”
Garcia thinks his season is a product of many things, including Renteria’s influence. Clearly the weight loss has helped and the way he’s felt this month has encouraged him to work as hard in the offseason. The experience and improved focus have also been keys for Garcia. Throw those aspects in with Renteria’s drive and Garcia put it all together. It’s the kind of manager Garcia thinks can help the White Sox turn their fortunes around as his own have.
“He pushes everybody to do their best every day,” Garcia said. “No matter what happens, we prepare to win the game the next day. He’s a great manager. I’m happy he’s here with us. I love Ricky. He’s that kind of guy that pushes you every day. He’s that kind of guy that even if you don’t hit, he’s always got your back. Big, big part.”