ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Leury Garcia’s inexperience in center field is inevitably going to lead to some of the throwing mistakes he has made the past few games.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria knows that occasionally Garcia will slip up. That’s what happens when a career utility man is asked to play a new position on an everyday basis for the first time. Of Garcia’s 67 career games in center, 42 have come this season.
At the same time, Renteria is trying to find a balance between his expectations and the learning curve.
He expects his team to provide a brand of smart, fundamental baseball. He also has to provide some leeway for the occasional mistake. But in between, Renteria and his staff have had several recent discussions with Garcia about throws that have allowed base runners to take an extra base when they shouldn’t have. On Tuesday, Garcia’s poor throw in the fifth inning got away from Tim Anderson, which allowed both runners aboard to move into scoring position.
“We continue to talk about it,” Renteria said. “But at some point it becomes emphasized a little more firmly, more crisply, and you tighten the importance of being able to make sure you’re doing the little things that are important, not allowing advancement of baserunners. All you’re trying to do is play clean baseball.”
“You have to play clean baseball. I don’t care how good a club you are in terms of talent or not, you have to play clean baseball. And part of that is hitting the cutoff guy. Part of that is not running into outs. Part of that is knowing what you’re supposed to be doing, executing bunts and things of that nature. Every aspect of the game has to be done with a purpose.”
Renteria has emphasized he wants this type of play from the outset of spring training. The focus of the team’s meetings at the start of each series is about what they did right or wrong in the previous games. There’s also individual instruction that goes on daily. But Renteria also realizes he has to balance his desire with the simple fact that he has an inexperienced roster that at times needs more development.
[VIVID SEATS: Get your White Sox tickets right here]
After Garcia made a pair of overthrows in Detroit and the one on Tuesday, they talked again.
On Tuesday, Garcia caught a hard liner with two men on and before he set his feet, under-armed his return in an attempt to get the ball back in quickly. The throw bounced short of Anderson and scooted away. Renteria likes how Garcia responded immediately by hitting the cutoff man with a hard throw after Kevin Kiermaier’s single in the eighth inning.
“We address it,” Renteria said. “We talk about it. (Garcia) understands and he knows that he’s got to make a better throw and in the next inning there was another play hit out to center field and I think he made a pretty good throw back into the cutoff guy, over the top. I think they’re making adjustments every day. Every play that they make or don’t make, they have an opportunity to gain something from that. He’s not precluded from doing that. He’s learning, he continues to learn. He continues to improve.”