MIAMI -- Avisaíl García is only human. The veteran outfielder was expected to be an impact bat in the middle of an improved Marlins lineup, complementing a talented pitching staff.
Through the season’s first 65 games, things hadn’t gone according to plan. Miami sits in fourth place in the National League East and has dealt with numerous injuries to its pitching staff and lineup. García has underperformed after signing a four-year, $53 million contract as the organization’s marquee free-agent signing.
“Sometimes you feel a little down, but it's normal,” García said. “When you're not doing good, life is the same, you know what I mean? I think you've got to get something out of your mind and take something good from it and keep working because we're alive, we're healthy. I've got family. Of course I want to do my job. I want to do good. I want to do good for my team. I play for my pride, but sometimes this happens. You can't do anything about it. Just keep going and be positive and keep working hard.”
It looked like more of the same early on in Tuesday night’s series opener against the Rockies following a 4-6 trip until García changed the complexity of the game. He knocked a three-run homer to right-center to spark a five-run fourth inning in an eventual 9-8 victory at loanDepot park. Garrett Cooper later hit the decisive RBI double off Alex Colomé in the eighth.
“I think when I'm good, and I'm on time, I always hit the ball to the middle of the field,” García said. “I've been working so hard. I think this game is hard, so just trying to do my job and try not to do too much and help my team win every single game.”
García, who turned 31 earlier this month, has seen progress at the plate of late. Through the season’s first two months, he slashed .201/.231/.282 with 11 runs, three doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs in 39 games. Since the calendar turned to June, he is batting .300 (18-for-60) with 10 runs, four doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games.
With his double in the seventh, García recorded his second multi-extra-base-hit game in a week after going all season without one. He has 12 extra-base hits on the season, tied for 10th fewest in MLB.
“I don't want to talk about the past, talk about tonight,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It was really good. He shoots the home run into right center, and then the ball he hits into left-center [for a double]. Both balls are hit square and kind of more on that trajectory. Tonight was good. Hopefully it starts his confidence and getting rolling. Just get more rhythm.”
Like pretty much every ballplayer, García is banged up. He has dealt with hand inflammation and knee soreness. He was hit by a pitch over the weekend in New York. The bigger reason for his struggles has been the learning curve of a new division and pitchers.
The same thing happened to him from 2020-21 with the Brewers after spending the first eight seasons of his career in the American League. Though there is a daily pregame meeting to go over the opposing team’s pitchers, it still takes time to adapt. Plus, they’re attacking him differently.
.302 and .465 SLG vs. fastballs (52.3 %)
.170 and .198 vs. breaking (40.2%)
.167 and .250 vs. offspeed (7.5%)
.295 and .536 vs. fastballs (53.8%)
.224 and .443 vs. breaking (35.3%)
.245 and .449 vs. offspeed (10.9%)
2022 stats compared to his career numbers:
-- 52.4% ground-ball rate (highest since 2016)
-- 3.9-degree launch angle (lowest)
-- 42.1% chase rate (highest since 2015)
García is thankful to have supportive and upbeat teammates like Jorge Soler and Jesús Aguilar at nearby lockers in the clubhouse. It helps to show up at the ballpark positive and calm.
“They're really understanding who they are,” hitting coach Marcus Thames told a small group of reporters last month. “I know some guys got off to a slow start, but I just try to keep them confident. They have a baseball card that they can look at and trust that track record, so guys are having good at-bats, hitting balls hard, and when you do that… I don't want him to get away from that. … I feel like we have guys that are doing things that we set out to do well in Spring Training, and they're starting to get better. We're starting to see the fruits of our labor.”