White Sox outfielder making the most of opportunity as starting center fielder. Has the versatile utility player found a home in center field?
In the midst of the White Sox rebuild, many young players will get a shot to prove their worth to the ball club. One who has done just that is utility-man Leury Garcia, who is off to the best start of his career in 2017. In a mere 84 at bats, Garcia has doubled his career home run total (from two to four) not to mention knocked in eight runs, which is 36.4 percent of the 22 he drove home since he broke into the majors.
How different does Garcia look in comparison to years past? Significantly better to say the least. A lot of this has to do with consistent playing time at the big league level, which can be seen by his 84 at bats in less than two months of play. To illustrate my point further, Garcia’s career high in terms of at bats occurred in 2014, and did not exceed 150 (145 to be exact).
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Considering the fact Garcia has not had the opportunity to play consistently in the past, could new Sox manager Rick Renteria be the anecdote to his struggles? Over the past several years, Robin Ventura did not use his bench in abundant fashion, wearing down his starters and rusting away his reserves. Not only is Renteria bilingual, he is keeping his entire team fresh as well.
The question now becomes will Garcia continue his improved play? Since he has yet to put together a solid big league season, the jury remains out on Leury. However his solid start is reason for optimism, therefore Sox fans should be pleased with his improvement. But slumps are in store for the utility man, meaning what looks rosy could turn sour in a heartbeat.
Here is what the Sox need long term, that being a super utility man who can play all over the field. While Tyler Saladino is a solid defender, he is not anywhere near as fast as Garcia. The key trait you want coming off your bench is speed, which Garcia has plenty to burn. Neither are .300 hitters (Garcia at .286 now), but if he can hit his weight he would be an ideal candidate to play all over the diamond.
Overall, Garcia’s start should bring hope for Sox fans in regards to his future. He will never be an elite player, however he has the tools to excel coming off the bench. Expect several players to be provided with the opportunity to succeed in this role, however Garcia has a very good shot to stick around for a while.
Has the downward plunge begun, Sox fans? If so, expect a lot of lopsided losses.