Outfielder goes 2-for-4 in first game following April 9 shoulder injury
CHICAGO -- The feeling for the night connected to right fielder Avisail Garcia was "nervous" in his return to the White Sox lineup Saturday night during the Blue Jays' 6-3 victory at U.S. Cellular Field.
Garcia had surgery to repair a torn labrum and an avulsion fracture in his left shoulder, which he sustained while diving arms-first for a fly ball in Colorado on April 9. He was pronounced out for the season at that point, but Garcia talked to MLB.com in June of a planned '14 comeback and officially made that plan a reality when the White Sox returned him from an injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte and reinstated Garcia from the 60-day disabled list prior to the second game of this series.
And there was Garcia, feeling those jitters in his first at-bat against Mark Buehrle leading off the second. Garcia promptly ripped a double to right.
"Just trying to make contact for the first at-bat," said a smiling Garcia, who finished 2-for-4 and almost tied the game in the sixth with a three-run homer that turned into a run-scoring single off the right-field wall. "I hit it and I didn't know where the ball went. The first-base coach told me, 'Run, run, run.' So I started running."
"It's a shot in the arm for us, adding another bat. He's really excited. You can see it in the way he was playing," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "That's the great thing. He's a great player and we're excited to have him back. I think he showed the talent that he has and why we're excited about having him."
Coming back this season didn't surprise Garcia. Hitting .340 with three doubles, one home run and three RBIs in 13 games during injury rehab with Charlotte did serve as a pleasant development for Garcia after his extended time away from facing live pitching. Garcia even joked that he felt as if he was getting two hits every night.
Ventura might use Garcia occasionally at designated hitter, but otherwise he has no restrictions. In fact, the only restriction for Garcia in his return is one the big right fielder pretty much placed on himself.
"No diving," said Garcia with a broad smile. "I'm going to go all out. Going to play hard every at-bat, every play. Nothing has changed, except diving."
"I don't know if there is no more diving," Ventura said. "But I think there is a way, hopefully on certain plays, that he can kind of do it feet first instead of diving the way he did."
Jose Bautista's fly ball to end the first stood as Garcia's opening chance in right. He made the catch after initially worrying about making an error.
With this return game out of the way, White Sox followers now get a six-week chance to see what the Jose Abreu /Garcia one-two punch will look like.
"Against lefties, they both complement each other," said Ventura. "You could flip-flop them if you really want to, but I like Jose where he's at. I think Avi will move around. There's even a chance with his kind of speed, you could bat him second, too, and put him in front."
"They told me I don't have a chance to come back this year, but I've been working hard for that. Now I'm here. I feel great. I feel really happy to come back this year," Garcia said. "I'm glad to be back here with the guys to help this team win. That's why I'm here."