Powell: After Turnaround Season Avi Garcia Selected To First All-Star Game

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White Sox outfielder Avi Garcia. (WGN Radio/Kevin Powell)

By Kevin Powell

Believe. That’s the word Avi Garcia emphasized when talking about his transformation over the past year. He’s gone from top prospect to potential bust. Now, he’s an American League All-Star.

“Believe,” the outfielder said after getting the news that he’s an All-Star. “Believe in yourself and work hard every day.”

Garcia’s .318/.362/.512 slash line is evidence of his hard work, well-deserving of his first All-Star selection. He’s smacked 11 homers to go along with 51 RBI’s. After years of mostly underperforming it felt like a season Garcia may fizzle out, never reaching his full potential. Instead, he’s headed to Miami next week for the Midsummer Classic.

“I lost weight. I worked on my hitting. I woke up every day at 5 a.m. to go to the gym,” Garcia said of his offseason program.

“I feel happy, it’s an honor to represent the White Sox in the All-Star game. It’s an honor for me. It’s another blessing. I just have to keep working and I can’t wait for that moment.”

This is the player the baseball world has anticipated seeing for years. It’s all finally clicking for the 26-year-old as he now appears to be a cornerstone of this White Sox rebuild.

“I believe in myself,” Garcia said.

Manager Rick Renteria noticed the changes in the outfielder back in spring.

“I talked to him over the winter and he talked about wanting to improve himself as a player. There’s never been a doubt that this kids driven to try to perform and excel,” Renteria said after his team’s 6-5 win over the Rangers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“I think it was evident probably in the second or third week of spring training that he was making some adjustments and doing some things that might lead him to do what he’s doing to this point.”

The adjustments have clearly worked. And all the credit goes to Garcia. This isn’t some fluke season. This is real hard work paying off. And maybe it’s the beginning of a long line of All-Star games for Garcia.

As Renteria put it: “Maybe he’s just scratching the surface right now and finally starting get to grips as to who he is as a player.”

Just scratching the surface. That’s music to the ears of Sox fans who are witnessing a refreshing rebuild on the south side. The Sox will continue to acquire more young players via trades and signings. But maybe they have their middle-of-the-order slugger on the roster already.

Stay tuned.

Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720