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Avi realizes dream with All-Star nod

MLB.com

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.

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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.

View Full Game Coverage

"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.

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"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.

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"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.

Chicago White Sox, Avisail Garcia