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.