Avisail Garcia

Michael Saunders joins Triple-A Charlotte: A potential addition to White Sox banged-up outfield?

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USA TODAY

Michael Saunders joins Triple-A Charlotte: A potential addition to White Sox banged-up outfield?

The White Sox could use some help in the outfield.

Did a reinforcement just join Triple-A Charlotte?

Former Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders signed with the White Sox organization Monday, joining up with Charlotte.

Saunders, 31, has parts of nine major league seasons under his belt. Last year, he split time with the Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies, posting a .202/.256/.344 slash line with six homers and 21 RBIs in 73 games.

The year prior he made his as-of-yet only All-Star appearance, slashing .253/.338/.478 with 24 homers in 140 games with the Jays.

The White Sox currently have both Opening Day corner outfielders on the shelf. Avisail Garcia has been on the disabled list for almost a month with a hamstring strain, and the team announced over the weekend that Garcia's injury is bad enough that it will likely keep him out until late June. Nicky Delmonico suffered a broken bone in his hand during the recently completed series with the Texas Rangers and will miss four to six weeks.

The White Sox have been giving playing time to Adam Engel, Leury Garcia, Daniel Palka and Trayce Thompson. But Engel and Thompson are both batting under .200, while Palka has an on-base percentage under .300.

So perhaps, with his major league experience, Saunders might make an appearance on the South Side sometime this summer.

'Slowly progressing' Avisail Garcia enters fourth week on DL while battling hamstring strain

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USA TODAY

'Slowly progressing' Avisail Garcia enters fourth week on DL while battling hamstring strain

If you watch the White Sox on a regular basis, you might be wondering: Where the heck is Avisail Garcia?

Last year’s White Sox representative at the All-Star Game, Garcia hasn’t had much of a chance to try and follow up what was a career year in 2017 because he’s been on the disabled list for more than three weeks, certainly long past the 10 days that are right in the DL’s name.

Garcia came out of the April 23 game against the Seattle Mariners when he was injured running to first base. He had a strained hamstring and he went to the DL. But that hamstring strain was a decently significant one, a “Grade 2” hamstring strain if the medical terminology interests you. Because of that, Garcia’s recovery has been slow. He’s still being bothered by the strain, which is why he’s not back in the lineup.

“Avi is slowly progressing through what was a Grade 2 hamstring strain,” general manager Rick Hahn updated Thursday. “You saw him out here today doing drills, he’s going to continue to slowly ramp up drills. But he’s not completely asymptomatic in terms of what he’s feeling, so we’re being very cautious with how we ramp him up.”

Other than the rare use of the word “asymptomatic” when discussing baseball, the takeaway there is that this recovery is taking a while. And maybe it will continue to take a while.

“I think we were optimistic that when we started ramping up drills he was going to be completely symptom free,” Hahn said. “Given that it was a Grade 2 strain after the MRI, we knew we were going to have to be careful with this, and again we’re trying to err on the side of caution. When he initially left the game, I don’t think we knew that it was a Grade 2, so we thought perhaps it would come a little more quickly. But the MRI made it clear, and with the player’s reporting, we need to take our time with this one.”

Hahn made sure to point out that just because Garcia’s recovery is going slowly doesn’t mean it’s going poorly. But the White Sox have already been without one of their biggest bats for more than three weeks.

Garcia’s 2018 season didn’t get off to the best of starts. In the 18 games he played during the season’s opening month, he slashed .233/.250/.315, a woeful line far off the .330/.380/.506 one he posted last season, when he was statistically one of the best hitters in the American League.

This year is undoubtedly a “prove it” one for Garcia, who has the task of showing that he can produce those kinds of numbers two years in a row and really cement himself as a possible corner outfielder of the future for this rebuilding team. It’s quite early, far too early to make any determination in that department. But with a host of minor league outfielders off to explosive starts themselves — guys like Eloy Jimenez, Micker Adolfo, Luis Alexander Basabe and Blake Rutherford — how will Garcia’s long-term future on the South Side change if he can’t match what he did in 2017?

In order to answer that question, he’s got to get back on the field first.

Avisail Garcia heads to the DL with a strained hamstring, White Sox bring Daniel Palka up from Triple-A

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USA TODAY

Avisail Garcia heads to the DL with a strained hamstring, White Sox bring Daniel Palka up from Triple-A

The White Sox will be without one of their bigger bats for a while.

Avisail Garcia was placed on the 10-day disabled list ahead of Tuesday afternoon's game with the Seattle Mariners. The night before, Garcia pulled up while running to first base on a ground ball. He remained on the ground for a little while and needed assistance getting off the field and back to the White Sox dugout. The team called his injury a strained hamstring, and that's what forced him to the DL on Tuesday.

"It’s considered mild to moderate," manager Rick Renteria said before Tuesday's game. "So depending on how quickly he’s able to heal and the exercises they do to put him back on track, we’re hoping it’s not a long, extended DL stint. I don’t see it that way, but we’ll see where it’s at in a few days after he’s calmed it down and they’re doing what they need to do with it."

Garcia's quest to repeat his All-Star campaign from 2017 hasn't gotten off to the best start. He's slashing just .233/.250/.315, and while those numbers can of course improve over the course of the season, they look paltry compared to his 2017 slash line of .330/.380/.506, which had him statistically as one of the better hitters in the American League. Of his 17 hits on the 2018 season, just four have gone for extra bases.

To replace the injured corner outfielder on the 25-man roster, the White Sox brought up Daniel Palka from Triple-A. Palka is having a nice start to 2018, slashing .286/.384/.476 with three home runs in 17 games at Charlotte. Last season, he slashed .274/.330/.431 with 12 home runs.

"In terms of Palka, he’s a left-handed bat, obviously his first time in the big leagues. I’m sure we’ll try to integrate him as quick as we possibly can, use him both in the outfield, pinch-hitting, maybe DHing on a particular day," Renteria said. "We’ll try to take advantage of what he brings to the table. We also want to find out what he’s going to be able to do here. He had a nice showing in the spring. Obviously comes with a lot of power, maybe we can take advantage of that a little bit."

The White Sox outfield looks significantly different now than it did just a week ago. The team acquired Trayce Thompson in a trade with the Oakland Athletics, and he's already homered in his return to the South Side. Now with Garcia on the shelf for a while, expect to see more of both Thompson and Palka.

"I think any opportunity, everything is opportunity in the game," Palka said. "You're ready to go at Day 1, so that's the plan.

"Come out Day 1 in whatever role there is, whatever role needs to be filled, just be consistent in that role."