What does Leury Garcia need to do to get more playing time?
Well, stay healthy for one. Garcia broke out in 2017, at least relative to his production in previous seasons. He matched his playing time through his first four seasons combined and slashed a respectable .270/.316/.423 while hitting nine home runs after hitting a total of two through the first 331 plate appearances of his career. All while filling in the gaps in a myriad of positions all over the diamond.
That season was cut short in late August when back stiffness and then a sprained thumb shut him down for the better part of the last month and a half. He entered this season in more or less the same situation, spelling Adam Engel in center field with superior offense but inferior defense, playing a good amount of left, and subbing in at right field, third base, shortstop, and second base when the situation warranted.
Garcia was serviceable when he played, but the problem was that he failed to stay healthy for a prolonged period of time. A knee sprain in late May kept him out for about a month, he missed a few games with a finger injury in early July, went on the DL again with a hamstring strain in August, missed the minimum amount of time, and then promptly landed back on it four days later with another hamstring strain that essentially ended his season.
At this point, the question for the 27-year-old becomes less “what does he need to do to get more playing time?” and more “where does he fit into the future?” The answer is uncertain. There is certainly a spot on a contending team for a player of Garcia’s ilk. League-average offense to go along with defensive versatility has value on any team. But as the White Sox transition from this phase of the rebuild into the next, it’s unclear whether Garcia will continue to warrant rostering. Once the plethora of outfield prospects begin graduating to the majors, and perhaps if the White Sox see Yolmer Sanchez as more of a utility infielder as opposed to an everyday third baseman, you could see him get squeezed out.
But that’s not now, at least. And right now Garcia is the type of player who the White Sox will continue to give opportunities to as long as other holes on the roster persist. At least, that is, whenever he’s healthy.
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