Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Leury Garcia to take his shots in the infield
By Bruce Levine
CHICAGO -- Leury Garcia has a chance to show off his skills for the next two nights for the Chicago White Sox. The versatile infielder-outfielder plays second base tonight and will get a shot at shortstop on Wednesday.
Garcia was acquired in the July 31 trade that sent Alex Rios to the Texas Rangers. The 22-year-old Dominican is a switch-hitter who can play numerous positions.
“We need to get him in there and see what he can do,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He has played enough of both [infield and outfield]. It is valuable to have someone that versatile to move in and out, especially if something happens.”
Garcia could eventually be looking at a full-time position.
Ventura wasn’t talking about a trade, but one of the White Sox’s biggest bargaining chips in the offseason might be the interest in shortstop Alexei Ramirez. The Sox came close to trading the 31-year-old Cuban before the non-waiver trading deadline on July 31. The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals were both very serious suitors for the accomplished player despite his career-high 21 errors in 2013.
Garcia would be a nice fit is Ramirez is dealt.
Garcia, who had been signed and developed in the Rangers organization, is looking forward to some playing time the next 30 days.
“I am very happy to get a chance to play,” he said. “We have great players on this team. I know I will have to earn my time out there.”
The key to Garcia’s success might be how well he adjusts to playing primarily as a backup for now.
“I am working on all three jobs every day in practice,” he said. "My arm is used to throwing from all of the positions now; they can play me any place they like. Every day, I take fly balls in the outfield and ground balls at second and shortstop.”
Third-base and infield coach Joe McEwing managed against Garcia in the Arizona fall league in 2011.
"I am excited to work with him,” the Sox third-base coach said. “He is a very athletic kid. The maturity is still growing for the young man. We can’t forget he is 22 years old. He is still growing as a player and as a person. We really like what we see."
McEwing was consulted by the White Sox front office before making the trade.
“We were about 60-40 on his chances to be an everyday player,” said a Rangers insider. “Some thought he was a utility guy, but I see an aggressive kid who has a chance to be an every-day big league shortstop.”
McEwing was in favor of acquiring Garcia.
“In my opinion, he will help us win ballgames,” he said. “He can spell our starters and fill in anywhere. He has tremendous upside because of his versatile skill set. It will be nice to watch him develop.”