Before spring training began, Avisail Garcia said he would experiment with a new batting stance in hopes of improving a part of his game he struggled with in 2015: consistency.
By the time spring training had ended, Garcia was feeling pretty encouraged about where he stood with his game.
He hit .383/.431/.733 in Arizona, hitting five homers – tied for first on the White Sox with three others – and posting a team-leading 19 RBI.
All signs appeared to be looking up for the Venezuelan outfielder.
But 18 games into the 2016 campaign, those inconsistencies have surfaced again, which is why Garcia will have his second day off in three games when the White Sox take on the Texas Rangers in their series finale on Sunday.
“(Jerry) Sands is in there and we're lucky,” said Robin Ventura. “With Sands, you can put him in there and you feel confident about him going in and helping you win a game until Avi can find that piece that's missing.”
Prior to Sunday, Garcia has played in four of six games during this homestand but hasn’t recorded a hit in any of the contests. He’s 0-for-14 – and only has one hit in his last 23 at-bats.
On the season, Garcia is has a .135/.224/.269 slash line in 15 games played.
The White Sox are still hopeful that the 24-year-old can get going in the majors.
Ventura believes sending Garcia to Triple-A Charlotte wouldn’t be a bad thing, but he believes Garcia has a spot on the roster for a reason.
“Right now we're trying to give him time here,” said Ventura. “…We think he can help us here.”
White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.
He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.
Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.
It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.
Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.
The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.
The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.
The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.
Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.
Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.
Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.
However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.
But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.