MIAMI -- Avisail Garcia knows he belongs here.He's long believed that he had the potential to be an All-Star. And now, he's proved it as the White Sox representative at the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard."I told myself I had to get better. I told myself I had to
MIAMI -- Avisail Garcia knows he belongs here.
He's long believed that he had the potential to be an All-Star. And now, he's proved it as the White Sox representative at the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.
"I told myself I had to get better. I told myself I had to do something," Garcia said through an interpreter. "I lost 20 pounds in the offseason and worked on my game. I feel so much better than I have in the past. This feels good."
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It has not been an easy road for the White Sox outfielder. Garcia tore his labrum early in the 2014 campaign and it required season-ending surgery. He spent the next two seasons trying to regain the form that made him one of the club's top young players.
He was a potential non-tender candidate in December. Now, he's considered among the best in the game.
"I'm so happy to be here and so grateful," Garcia said. "I'm healthy and happy. I put everything into having a good season. I feel like if you work hard and you believe in God that things will work out for you. Things take time and it has taken me time to get here."
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The secret to Garcia's success this year is really no secret at all. The Venezuelan star says he's a more mature and experienced player, one with a routine and daily plan. The highs and lows that come with being a professional baseball player are not going to bother him anymore. He's simply more comfortable in the big leagues.
The first-time All-Star sports a .310 average, .850 OPS, 11 home runs and 51 RBIs this season. He has been dealing with a sprained middle finger on his right hand and previously missed games due to left knee soreness, but those injuries were not going to keep him out of the All-Star Game. Garcia knows what his appearance in Miami means to his fans in Chicago and to his countrymen back in Venezuela.
Garcia is the latest in a line of White Sox All-Stars from Venezuela that starts with Alfonso "Chico" Carrasquel, the first player from Venezuela to play in the All-Star Game, in 1951. The list includes also White Sox greats Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Guillen.
"It gives me goosebumps to even think about being mentioned with Carrasquel," Garcia said. "Those players did a lot for us Venezuelans and for all Latinos. I'm just very happy to be here to represent our country."
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.