Updated: August 15, 2013 7:25PM
There’s no way to measure the magnitude of Avisail Garcia’s breakthrough night Tuesday for the White Sox. On some levels, it was a pretty big deal that the prized prospect acquired in the Jake Peavy trade tripled in a couple of runs, scored two, had two hits and scooted home in the 11th inning with the game-winning run against the organization he grew up with.
The next morning, he was one of the first players to arrive at the park, eager to show us more of what he can do. On Wednesday afternoon, he went 2-for-5 with an RBI in the Tigers’ 6-4 victory that prevented the Sox from completing a series sweep.
The last thing the Sox wanted was to watch Garcia get off to a slow start, and when he was 2-for-13 going into Tuesday’s game, the groundwork was laid for just that. With a new team, new teammates and new fans — new everything — Garcia wouldn’t be the first 22-year-old to tighten up and have a 2-for-13 morph into a 5-for-40.
First base coach Daryl Boston, who works with Sox outfielders, was a Sox first-round draft choice in 1981, so he knows what it’s like to cope with the hope.
“When you give up a guy like Jake Peavy, and you have five-tool expectations that scouts have put on him and being compared to Miguel Cabrera, then being in a new environment and proving to teammates that you’re worthy of the trade, he’s got a lot on his plate,’’ Boston said.
It would be easy for Garcia to set his bar too high.
“He’s coming over from a different organization through a trade, so he has everything working against him as far as not trying to overdo it,’’ new teammate Adam Dunn said.
“He’s 22, and he’s trying to do everything. If things don’t go well, then he’s really going to press. And with a new team, it will add more pressure.’’
That said, Garcia already has played in a World Series.
“It’s not like we’re letting him stick his toe in the water,’’ manager Robin Ventura said.
But Dunn, who has experienced great expectations with different teams because of his stature and the size of his contracts, knows pressure comes with the territory of blending into a new environment. He tried to defuse it for Garcia by saying he won’t be judgmental about him. Not this week, not next month.
“If he does do good, then great,’’ Dunn said. “He’s going to do some cool things anyway, and we know how good he is. His tools are off the charts. But I wouldn’t put any stock in this year at all.’’
Boston said he can’t wait to see where Garcia’s talent will take him. He’s ready to work with him during spring training.
“It’s a small sample size, but I like what I see,’’ Boston said. “He’s here early, and he wants to contribute. You see him working on stuff in the cage. I’m looking forward to seeing him get this last month and a half under his belt, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he comes to spring training.’’
Dunn would like to tell Garcia to relax, but it’s no use. Pressing at least a little “is a natural thing.’’
While his talent raises expectations, it also allows him to play with confidence.
“In baseball, you have good days, good weeks, bad days and bad weeks,’’ Garcia said. “That happens. You just keep going.
“[Pressure is] normal because it’s your first time here. You meet new guys; you make a new family. I feel real good right now because this is a good opportunity for me. I just do my best.’’