Selectivity issues at plate hinder Avisail Garcia
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter April 5, 2014 8:08PM
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 28: Avisail Garcia #26 of the Chicago White Sox follows through on a three-run home run scoring Paul Konerko #14 and Adam Dunn #32 during the seventh inning against the Houston Astros at U.S. Cellular Field on August 28, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Updated: May 7, 2014 6:24AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Avisail Garcia is far from a finished product.
“He has some discipline issues he needs to work on,’’ hitting coach Todd Steverson said.
Plate discipline, that is. Big, strong and able to cover all of the strike zone and then some, Garcia has so much ability that it can actually be a hindrance, Steverson said. Learning how to harness it is part of the learning process for the 22-year-old right fielder.
“He’s young, he has a lot of energy,’’ Steverson said. “Sometimes he thinks he has a little red cape hanging on his back and a big letter ‘S’ on the front of his shirt and that he can hit everything. You can’t hit everything. His selectivity has to be a little better and he knows it. He’s working on it. If he stays in the zone he can be a top-notch hitter.’’
Fighting his way through an 0-for-13 slump, Garcia sat out the Sox’ 4-3 loss to the Royals on Saturday to work on things in the cage and during batting practice. Manager Robin Ventura also saw it as an opportunity to get Dayan Viciedo — who played right field with Alejandro De Aza staying in left against Royals lefty and Sox killer Bruce Chen — some needed at-bats.
Ventura said Garcia, who has missed the Sox offensive party through the first four games, looks out of sync. He was 3-for-18 through Friday.
“He’s feeling for it a lot,’’ Ventura said. “It’s not a real confident swing that he’s had earlier. I’ve seen him in spring looking pretty good and feeling confident. It just feels like he’s tentative and feeling for it. So just give him a day in the cage to just get a good feel back and be back in there tomorrow.’’
While many of the hitters around him in the Sox’ lineup were making contributions to an average output of seven runs per game during the season-opening series against the Twins, Garcia was relatively quiet.
“He gets himself in good hitter’s counts but then he gets anxious and then he goes after some borderline pitches here and there,’’ Steverson said. “You see him stay in the zone and he can barrel up some balls pretty good.’’
Garcia’s tape-measure home runs in batting practice have captured the attention of teammates and coaches alike, but like Steverson says, “barreling up a 55 mph batting-practice fastball and hit it into no-man’s land and doing it off 95 mph [in a game] is a big switch. The talent and ability are there.
“Once he learns himself — he’s in his early 20s and he’s still developing into what he’s going to be. He has pop to all fields and sometimes that’s a help and sometimes it’s a hindrance. When you can go out to all parts of the park you think you are super human.
“He just needs to make a pitcher come to him rather than hit every ball that comes up there. His discipline is getting a little better, we’ve been talking about it since spring training and he’s aware of it. He’s doing his best to figure it out.’’
The Sox lost for the third consecutive time after starting 2-0. They tied it in the eighth on an RBI single by Conor Gillaspie and a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Paul Konerko, who made his first start.
The Royals took the lead back in the bottom of the inning on consecutive two-out doubles by Alex Gordon (against Scott Downs) and Sox nemesis Salvador Perez (against Maikel Cleto).
John Danks allowed three runs over seven innings.