The Garcias bring hope to White Sox
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter August 22, 2013 10:43PM
- Gillaspie's HR in 12th leads White Sox to sixth consecutive win
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Updated: September 24, 2013 6:47AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At 5-7 and 160 pounds, Leury Garcia is nine inches shorter and 80 pounds lighter than Avisail Garcia. His tool belt is much smaller, too.
Besides having the same last name and age, 22, the Garcias have something else in common as the players acquired by the White Sox in recent trades for Jake Peavy and Alex Rios. The trades signify a shift in direction for the organization as general manager Rick Hahn shifts toward a younger, faster and more athletic roster for now and beyond.
Leury (pronounced lay-OOH-ree) isn’t generating the same buzz as Avisail (pronounced ah-VEE-sah-eel), but he has tools — just not as many. He was once rated as the fastest player in the Texas Rangers’ deep minor-league system, has a gun for an arm and can play above-average defense. He’s versatile enough to play both middle-infield positions and the outfield and provides needed youth and speed “on both sides of the ball,’’ as Hahn said Thursday. For now, he’s a switch-hitting singles hitter who needs to draw more walks and improve his plate discipline if he wants to become an every-day player. He’s another new face in the clubhouse as the Sox transition toward next year and beyond with younger blood.
“Given his age, there is plenty of time left for him to grow,’’ Hahn said.
Leury Garcia joined the Sox at 51-74 and four games deep in last place in the American League Central, but it can’t feel that depressing. The Sox defeated the Royals 4-3 in 12 innings Thursday for their sixth consecutive win and eighth in nine games.
Rookie third baseman Conor Gillaspie homered in the 12th, and Addison Reed got the save for the sixth time in as many games. The last pitcher to do that was the Dodgers’ Eric Gagne in 2003.
“There’s a better feel around the club,’’ Hahn said. “Things are jelling better now and giving us reason for optimism in the offseason.’’
Jake Petricka, 25, threw five pitches to Salvador Perez, got an inning-ending double-play grounder and picked up the win in his major-league debut. More young players will follow Petricka and Leury Garcia from Class AAA Charlotte. Hahn said he’ll be in observation mode from now till the end of September to determine who will figure in his plans for 2014.
“There are still added pieces and added elements we have to work on to get where we want to, but we’ve been pleased with the pieces we’ve added,’’ Hahn said.
“Even if the playoffs don’t happen for us, we definitely have something to build on,’’ Gillaspie said after the win. “If you’re an upper-end staff guy, you have to look at this team and see a lot of potential. And we’re obviously meshing well.’’
Hahn was here for the entire trip. After enduring a brutal first half of his first season, he’s taking the streak in stride and waiting to see how the Sox’ pitching will fare on their next road trip.
“It’s nice to see some wins,’’ he said. “We are real pleased with the pitching staff, obviously. We have an interesting test for the pitching staff coming up after the homestand with a 10-game trip against good offensive clubs [Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles]that are competing for the postseason.’’
Ah, “competing for the postseason.’’ Now there’s a phrase that hasn’t been heard around this team since, well, last September.
Maybe the Garcia boys and this younger blood can do something to make that a topic of conversation on the South Side again before too long.