Much of the quite fine Avisail Garcia injury analysis out there has approached his absence from a straight-forward factual approach. It's fine and proper, and Jay Jaffe does a good job here of articulating the facts:
"It’s a tough blow for the Pale Hose, too, who were relying on newcomers Jose Abreu, Adam Eaton and Garcia to upgrade an offense that ranked 11th in batting average (.250), 14th in on-base percentage (.303) and 13th in slugging percentage (.379) in the AL despite playing half their games in one of the league’s most hitter-friendly parks."
Yet it doesn't quite capture why I find the loss of Garcia particularly upsetting. Because the White Sox early offensive outburst certainly hasn't been predicated on Garcia being consistently good, and they moved on and kept mashing Thursday night without him. How effective they will be with and without him is just half of the analysis.
What this injury robs the White Sox of is a particular purpose of this season. Winning is great, but not having serious playoff ambitions offers a great opportunity to roll with the punches and watch someone like Garcia grow.
Sox fans will get Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton, but to their credit, early on it seems like they have pretty good concepts of who they are as players and what they're doing. We're going to find out what their performance level is, and so far it's been great, but it looks unlikely that it was necessary to have them start in a rebuilding year to get their feet wet.
But this season provided a great opportunity for Avisail to work through his growing pains in a relatively consequence-free zone. He could be the big goofy, half-finished player he is, screw up and single-handedly lose games with incompetence, and it would be something he could learn from without the weight of a moneyed contender on his shoulders.
Instead, what he'll learn is that he needs to tumble at the end of a dive. And he won't even get started practicing on that for months, nor will he swing a bat, because he tore his shoulder off. The White Sox could, should and probably will have a good and positive year, but Avisail was the biggest opportunity for it to exceed our wildest expectations, and he's gone.
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