SEATTLE -- Willy Garcia didn’t initially get the kind of reaction he hoped for after hitting the first home run of his career until arriving in the clubhouse on Saturday.
Unlike his teammates, Garcia’s friends and family blew up his mobile phone late Saturday and again early Sunday with messages of congratulations, etc. The warm reception was an improvement after teammates at first offered Garcia the cold shoulder when he returned to the dugout. In what has become a customary reaction throughout baseball, White Sox players and coaches gave Garcia the silent treatment after his 401-foot homer to left field reached the third deck at Safeco Field. Garcia rolled with it and danced through the dugout to offer invisible teammates a series of high fives before players eventually broke down and celebrated with him.
“That is something players always do with the rookies,” Garcia said through an interpreter. “It was fun. I went to the dugout, and I was happy, and then they all kind of (ignored me).
“It feels very good. That was an exciting moment. Every ballplayer here wants to get his first hit and first homer, and it was a special moment.”
Manager Rick Renteria gave Garcia the lineup card and the home run ball also was retrieved. Garcia said he’d frame the lineup card and store the ball with other memorabilia he has collected over the years.
Garcia nearly hit two homers on Saturday. He finished the game with two sacrifice flies and the homer, driving in three. After the game he spent more than 15 minutes reading messages on his phone, a scene that played out again Sunday morning as friends and family who had been asleep in the Dominican Republic realized his accomplishment and reached out to the rookie outfielder.
“My phone is crazy,” Garcia said on Saturday. “Every two minutes I get another text message and calls.”