White Sox

The Garcia and Garcia Show: Avisail, Leury keep swinging as White Sox complete sweep of Royals

The Garcia and Garcia Show: Avisail, Leury keep swinging as White Sox complete sweep of Royals

You probably couldn’t have predicted this before the season started: that a pair of Garcias would be leading the offensive charge for the surging White Sox.

But here we are, still in 2017’s first month, and Avisail and Leury Garcia are swinging the biggest sticks for a White Sox team that’s scored 33 runs during a four-game winning streak.

Avisail, who’s earning way-too-early virtual MVP chants on Twitter on a nightly basis, delivered the biggest blow Wednesday, breaking a short-lived 2-all tie with a two-run blast to center field to put his team back in front for good. Leury added his own solo shot an inning later to make it a 5-2 score, the eventual final in the South Siders’ win over the visiting Kansas City Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Avisail Garcia remains the biggest talking point around this team, resurgent in his performance this season after struggling during his first couple years in a White Sox uniform. Last season he slashed .245/.307/.285 with 12 home runs and 51 RBIs in 120 games.

After Wednesday, he’s hitting .373 this season with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 20 games.

“His approach hasn’t changed,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “He had an 0-for-4 day the other day and he kept it simple again. Kept his hands in tight and driving the ball, not just feeling for it, driving the thing and you see the hustle out of him, man. He made a nice play in the outfield, too, and he is playing the game of baseball.”

“What I think I've seen a little bit more this year, he's making good contact but now he seems to be driving the ball a little bit more, too,” manager Rick Renteria said. “It's a good thing.”

But don’t forget about Leury Garcia, who’s cranked his production up to 11 in the last few games. He’s 8-for-15 in the last four games with a pair of extra-base hits and four RBIs.

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Jacob May was pegged as the team’s everyday center fielder when camp broke. But Leury Garcia’s bat is forcing Renteria to keep writing his name in the lineup. And that, Leury Garcia said, has been the key to swinging such a hot bat.

“Yes, it was a matter of time. Because once you start getting more game time, more at-bats, you are feeling more comfortable with your approach and you are getting to know your team and what you have to do during the games,” Leury Garcia said. “For me, that has been the key, the playing time, the at-bats, the repetition. And that’s good.”

“Just his overall play. Obviously, he's getting on base, he's getting on whether through a hit or hustling down the line. He's making some plays in the outfield,” Renteria said. “Just his overall game is kind of coming together a little bit. I think it's part of who he is, and it's nice to see.”

Whether you want to believe that old baseball maxim that hitting is contagious or you don’t, there’s no doubt that the hits and runs have come from up and down the White Sox lineup during this stretch. Wednesday, Jose Abreu and Frazier got things going with back-to-back RBI doubles in the first inning.

That 2-0 lead held until the Royals chipped away at White Sox starter Jose Quintana, first with a run on a Jorge Bonifacio fifth-inning single and then with a run on a game-tying Alcides Escobar groundout in the sixth. Quintana had a pair of wild pitches in that sixth inning.

But then came Avisail Garcia’s heroics, the White Sox lineup finally providing some run support for Quintana, who won for the first time this season.

“The old saying hitting is contagious,” Frazier said. “You know to come out and get two quick runs with two outs, I think we got all the runs with two outs — spectacular. We had to keep pounding a little bit. Looked like both teams a little sluggish, quick turnaround after last night’s game and to get on top early kind of put a damper on the other team.”

The White Sox will take their four-game winning streak to Detroit for the start of a 10-game road trip that swings through the Motor City, Kansas City and Baltimore.

Or maybe we should be calling it The Garcia & Garcia Show World Tour.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Harold Baines elected to the Hall of Fame!

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Harold Baines elected to the Hall of Fame!

The MLB Winter Meetings began with a big surprise: White Sox legend Harold Baines is headed to Cooperstown. On the podcast, Baines talks about:

3:42 - What it means to make the Hall of Fame, how surprised he was to get the call and more.

6:20 - Ron Kittle talks about his former teammate and explains what he told Baines when he heard the news. 

10:42 - Jerry Reinsdorf who was a part of the voting committee explains why Baines is a Hall of Famer.  

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below!

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Jerry Reinsdorf ecstatic over Harold Baines' Hall of Fame election: 'He really is a Chicago White Sox'

Jerry Reinsdorf ecstatic over Harold Baines' Hall of Fame election: 'He really is a Chicago White Sox'

LAS VEGAS — Harold Baines is a Hall of Famer, or at least he will be very soon, elected to the Hall on Sunday night just before the start of baseball's Winter Meetings.

With the controversy over whether he was or wasn't worthy of the honor finally put to bed, only one burning question remained: Who was most excited about it?

Baines, famously a man of few words and few outward displays of emotion, might not be the correct answer, even though he's the one who will soon be enshrined in Cooperstown.

"I think the people with the White Sox might be happier than Harold because we all love Harold so much," team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said Sunday night in Nevada. "We’re just so happy for him. But he deserved it. He got in because he deserved to get in — not because he’s a great guy. He is a great guy."

But as happy as the chairman was, Baines was just as surprised.

"I'm very humbled and honored for this good news today," he said on a conference call. "I'm very grateful to the veteran's committee for thinking I'm worthy of this Hall-of-Fame honor today. I'm very shocked today.

"Very surprising. I was only on there one year, so I wasn't expecting this day to come. But that doesn't reflect on the person I am. I had a great career, I'm very proud of it. I think any player would tell you he doesn't play the game of baseball to get into the Hall of Fame."

Baines' numbers certainly back up his deserving status. In the 20 years that covered the 1980s and 1990s, he ranked fifth in baseball with 2,783 hits, second with 1,583 RBIs, third with 4,474 total bases, fifth with 474 doubles, fourth with 896 extra-base hits and ninth with 373 home runs. He sits in the top 50 among current Hall of Famers in RBIs, hits, home runs, extra-base hits and doubles. Since 1969, Baines is 10th among all players with at least 100 at-bats with a .324 postseason batting average.

"He just deserved it," Reinsdorf said. "It was just a shame he didn’t get in sooner than this. Harold is a great player. You look at the numbers he put up in the '80s and the '90s and played in the Majors for 22 years. I don’t think he ever had a bad year. Of course, there’s no finer person than Harold Baines.

"When the game was on the line in the eighth or ninth inning, and you can pick somebody to you wanted up, it was Harold Baines."

Reinsdorf was a member of this year's 16-person committee, along with former White Sox manager Tony La Russa, who managed Baines for many years during the 1980s.

Asked how he reacted when Baines was officially elected, Reinsdorf said, "I just went like that," showing reporters a fist pump, "and I looked up at Tony La Russa and I thought he was going to cry."

Asked how Baines reacted when he heard the news, Reinsdorf relayed, sarcastically: "Oh, he was screaming and hollering."

Who knows what emotion we'll see from Baines next summer in Cooperstown, but Reinsdorf is already making some joking predictions.

"That was one of the arguments we made to the voters: If you do vote him in, it will be a very short speech," Reinsdorf said. "But Steve Hirdt said, 'You don’t know, maybe Harold will get up there and say, “I’ve kept it all in for all these years and now I’m going to let it out and talk for 45 minutes.”' But I don’t think so.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if he said, 'Thank you very much' and sat down."

All kidding aside, the White Sox are, to borrow Reinsdorf's word, ecstatic over Baines' election. He spent parts of 14 seasons as a player on the South Side and many more as a coach in his post-playing career. He's had an influence of some kind or another on just about everyone who played for the team for the last nearly four decades.

"Harold just commands so much respect from everybody," Reinsdorf said. "He’s quiet, but they know who Harold Baines was. Look, Harold is the one guy who can control Ozzie (Guillen).

"Everybody has so much respect for the guy. Nobody said anything bad about him.

"Harold has been with the White Sox, with time off for a few other teams, since I got there. And he’s really a constant. He really is a Chicago White Sox. You look at the era of the '80s and '90s, it was Harold Baines."

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