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Burdi thrilled with progress in throwing sessions

'Focus and confidence' key for A. Garcia; Hahn reiterates White Sox plan for long-term success
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Zack Burdi, who had Tommy John surgery on July 27 of last season, is throwing from 30 feet with 30 throws per session. The right-hander threw Friday at UIC in front of pitching coach Don Cooper and other Chicago hurlers, just a few hours before the beginning of SoxFest, and he will move back to 45 feet Monday as part of the recovery.

"I had a problem being stagnant the first couple of days I was throwing, and putting my arm back and then, like, pushing it forward and leaning back and pushing it," said Burdi, who has gone through six sessions at 30 feet over the past two weeks. "So to get back to that feel of the groove and rhythm, I'm just happy I'm back there, and I'm strong and my arm feels good. I can't ask for too much more."

CHICAGO -- Zack Burdi, who had Tommy John surgery on July 27 of last season, is throwing from 30 feet with 30 throws per session. The right-hander threw Friday at UIC in front of pitching coach Don Cooper and other Chicago hurlers, just a few hours before the beginning of SoxFest, and he will move back to 45 feet Monday as part of the recovery.

"I had a problem being stagnant the first couple of days I was throwing, and putting my arm back and then, like, pushing it forward and leaning back and pushing it," said Burdi, who has gone through six sessions at 30 feet over the past two weeks. "So to get back to that feel of the groove and rhythm, I'm just happy I'm back there, and I'm strong and my arm feels good. I can't ask for too much more."

Burdi, 22, felt the injury last July 9 while pitching for Triple-A Charlotte at Louisville, the same city where he went to college and often works out during the offseason. He stopped himself before throwing a pitch that would potentially cause an ulnar collateral ligament tear, only to find out from an ensuing MRI that the tear already was there.

"But at the end of the day, I went off the field and I had a bunch of friends and family there, and it was really good to kind of embrace that and have them there during the difficult time," said the hard-throwing reliever, who is projected as a closer of the future after being selected 26th overall in the 2016 Draft. "I was really lucky.

"Injuries [stink] and being patient stinks, but it's part of it. The injury side of the game happens to everyone at some point in their career."

Video: KC@CWS: Avisail Garcia cracks a two-run homer

Garcia going strong

Avisail Garcia became an All-Star for the first time in 2017, finishing with the Majors' third-highest average at .330, along with 18 homers, 27 doubles, 80 RBIs and an .885 OPS.

Garcia figured out two important keys to success along the way: focus and confidence.

"That's the most important, that's the click you need," Garcia said. "If you have focus and confidence, you got a pretty good chance."

Garcia's focus on success hasn't wavered, with 5 a.m. wake-up calls daily to work out in the offseason. But he shakes his head and laughs when thinking about himself as one of the "veterans" of the rebuild.

"It's unbelievable. I say, 'How old are you? 21? No way,'" Garcia said. "I'm old now? I'm 40? What happened?"

The words of Hahn

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn reiterated Friday that the team is not averse to winning in 2018. But they simply won't change their rebuild philosophy for a one-year push in terms of potential free-agent signings or trades.

"We are not going to deviate from this plan in order for a short-term gain," Hahn said. "We are not looking to jump up and win one Wild Card. We are looking to win multiple championships."

Pitching on display

Cooper watched about 12 pitchers throw bullpen sessions Friday morning at UIC. While that group has him fired up, he's equally excited to see the guys who aren't in Chicago for SoxFest.

"There's another whole bunch of people that we believe in, and there's going to be another bunch that maybe just got in that will make their step forward," Cooper said. "That's what is real. That's not me imagining things or wishing for things. It's all good."

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