Not that most White Sox fans expected much out of the 2014 season to begin with, but with the team hovering around five or six games below .500 for the last two months, it’s a safe bet that this year won’t bring the south side a playoff berth. Often times, this scenario brings lifeless, empty September baseball. Heck, that’s a big reason why Bud Selig decided to add one more wild card team before last season.
However, Rick Hahn and the rest of the men upstairs in the White Sox organization likely look at September much more positively. As fans of the Palehose, you should too.
We could see Carlos Rodon. We could see Micah Johnson (if his recent injury checks out). We could see Carlos Sanchez, as well as Marcus Semien and Josh Phegley again. All of that would be great, but there’s one guy who is already on the Southside that may get you more excited than anyone else: Avisail Garcia.
Back on April 9 on a sunny afternoon in Denver, Avisail Garcia made a head-first dive for a ball. The result was a torn labrum in his left shoulder and millions of Sox fans launched into a state of depression for what was likely weeks. With an injury like that and a long, bright future ahead for the 23-year old Venezuelan, no one expected to see Avisail bat at the MLB level again in 2014.
Those expectations were true for probably everyone except for Garcia himself, as shortly after the injury, he claimed he wanted to make it back for the end of the season. A rigorous rehab program and four months of a dedicated athlete later, Garcia headed to AAA Charlotte, crushed everything in his path, and returned to the MLB level on August 16. He was just in time to crash Mark Buehrle’s return and Frank Thomas’ Hall of Fame party, which all happened on the same day at 35th and Shields.
Since coming back, Avisail has looked comfortable at both the plate and in the field, smacking three hits and two doubles to close out the Toronto series. In fact, if Jose Abreu didn’t have a baserunning gaff in front of Garcia, we’re probably looking at three doubles for Avi. Combine the results with some impressive plate discipline (numerous 1-0, 2-0 counts and a walked worked from a 1-2 count on Sunday), and Garcia looks pretty promising for a guy who no one thought we’d see until Opening Day 2015.
The results aren’t even the best part of this whole thing, however. It’s the experience. Not that we’d want this to happen, but Avisail Garcia can hit .100 and strike out 65 times between now and September 28 and all of this would be worth it (hey, isn’t that was Tyler Flowers did in June anyways?). The point is, Avisail Garcia is going to get 100-or-so more plate appearances as a 23-year old than we all figured he would in 2014. What was once thought of as a “lost year” of development for Garcia is no longer such, and while it’s not as good as a full season of at-bats, it’s far from a lost season. What these last 40 games are going to give Avisail Garcia are two things: confidence that he can play with his shoulder and points of emphasis to improve upon heading into the off-season.
So, while the White Sox won’t be playing “meaningful” baseball this September, the team will tell you these last games mean a heck of a lot. The team’s going to get a chance to see a lot of young players, including a guy who four months ago was an afterthought in 2014. While the White Sox would much rather be playing for an American League Central title, this isn’t a bad consolation prize. Quite frankly, if you’re a die-hard White Sox fan, this isn’t a bad reason to watch either.
Photo Credit: AP Photo