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Make Avisail an AL All-Star starter

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- There has been no contact between White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia and one-time White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen since the 2017 season began, aside from the two engaging in conversation Saturday before Mark Buehrle's jersey number was retired.

But Guillen had some pointed commentary for Garcia, who sits fifth among American League outfielders in Monday's release of the Esurance All-Star Game Ballot voting, when the two ran into each other during this past offseason when going against each other during winter baseball in Venezuela.

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CHICAGO -- There has been no contact between White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia and one-time White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen since the 2017 season began, aside from the two engaging in conversation Saturday before Mark Buehrle's jersey number was retired.

But Guillen had some pointed commentary for Garcia, who sits fifth among American League outfielders in Monday's release of the Esurance All-Star Game Ballot voting, when the two ran into each other during this past offseason when going against each other during winter baseball in Venezuela.

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"I saw him batting seventh and I was all over him," Guillen said. "I said, 'You should be embarrassed. You're batting seventh in winter league. You have to be third, or fourth.' Now he's picked it up. Hopefully he will keep it up."

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"He gave me advice," Garcia said. "I thank him because he's a great human and everything he said to me is going to work for me. I just listened. Always listen."

Garcia certainly has responded to Guillen's critique and, more importantly, the White Sox challenge during this breakout campaign. His 1,292,694 votes trail Aaron Judge (3,442,597), Mike Trout (2,559,173), George Springer (1,619,385), and Michael Brantley (1,325,473), while holding a slight edge over Mookie Betts (1,223,195).

Entering Monday's series opener against the Yankees, Garcia ranked second to Judge by one point in the AL with a .331 batting average. His 51 RBIs left him tied for fifth and only nine away from topping his single-season high of 59. He has a .904 OPS, 11 homers and 17 doubles.

Guillen likes Garcia's up-the-middle offensive approach and how he's refrained from expanding the zone and chasing bad pitches.

"A lot of people say he needs to pull the ball; I say, 'why?' When you pull the ball you have more tendency to strike out and have bad at-bats," Guillen said. "People keep waiting on him to be what he was. Right now, he has more experience.

"He doesn't live in the past, like 'Oh it's the next Miguel Cabrera' or 'He's this guy, he's the best we've ever had.' That's why he got better. What he's doing right now, it's fun. He's showing his potential. I see a lot of players with potential who never make it. It started getting too late for him, now he's back on the map."

Video: BAL@CWS: Avisail doubles, two runs come home

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot until Thursday at 10:59 p.m. CT. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB.com At Bat and MLB.com Ballpark mobile apps.

The Esurance All-Star Selection Show will take place on Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Following the unveiling of the 2017 All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote for the final player on each league's All-Star roster. Then on Tuesday, July 11, while watching the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2017 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 88th Midsummer Classic, at Marlins Park in Miami, will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM will have comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @AllStarGame on social media.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Avisail Garcia