Avisail returns, to right where he started

It wouldn't be great for the online user experience and probably not foster much "brand satisfaction," but a fair analysis of Avisail Garcia's return could be "he's healthy, so who cares?"

Avisail Garcia thirstily tried to stretch an eighth inning double into a triple Sunday. In the immediate wake of him being thrown out by several feet and slapped with a tag so casual and relaxed it actually drew a replay, there was a myriad of things to assess. He had hit the ball with extra-base authority to right field again, and the effort to third showed no hesitance from Garcia, even if it was inconclusive about whether his sluggish April speed was a permanent new condition or a week of being cold in the Midwest.

But the most usable observation came from Jim Margalus of South Side Sox, who simply noted that his day-late slide into third base came feet first. Garcia is readjusting to major league action and major league pitching after a four-month absence. He is simultaneously embroiled in the most important developmental phase of his career, a phase that requires as many reps at the plate and in right field as his body and constitution can sustain, and is struggling to re-place the foothold he had on this long climb before injury. We cannot expect to see the true progress of the former while he deals with the latter. What we can expect to see and judge right away, is whether this absence imposed caution upon his play.

The slide is not a bad sign, everything in the play that preceded it implied there will never be caution.

So far, Garcia has surprisingly jumped immediately back into the player that was so confounding and compelling when he arrived in Chicago last year. He's compiled a gaudy batting average that makes it not only look comical to slow his promotion to the majors, but also probably made it functionally difficult to instruct him (how are you going to get a guy hitting .340 to revamp his approach), all with a method at the plate that makes you wonder how much sustained success he can ever have.

The man is good enough at barreling things up to have a .290 career MLB batting average despite a 22% strikeout rate and below-average power.  On the flip side, he's enormous swingaholic with contact issues and below-average power. He's either a wunderkind or a problem child depending on how the light hits him, and so far it's shaken out to just above-average.

Garcia has actually hit .303/.338/.468 in a White Sox uniform almost exclusively spraying line-drive to right field and slapping grounders up the middle, and making the long trips to center and right for his power. This is above-average work and would probably do for a career, especially after three years of watching Dayan Viciedo do a lot worse with the same approach. That early returns suggest he's settled right back into this mode--although 16 strikeouts in 53 trips to the plate in Triple-A suggest that hole in the upper middle-half is very much intact--and that would be a perfectly fine place for him to stay. We assumed this year to not only be lost in April, but also possibly a setback from previous progress. If Avisail was able to make this season simply a net-zero, it would be a pleasant surprise.

Because Garcia is big and strong enough to blast balls out to right and deep center, it stands to reason he has enough to torque to pop only decently-struck fly balls out to left, and utilizing that pull power was the big project of the year for Todd Steverson. The night before Garcia went down, he hammered two home runs out to left field--in Coors Field--and everyone felt pretty damn happy about the progress of the effort. Yet realistically, this was something that was expected to take the whole season to show consistent returns, and that's only if it worked, rather than realize that Garcia was too inept at covering the inner half to be an effective pull hitter at all.

Any, any progress in this regard over the next month and a half would simply be the greatest. It would rate a 12 out of 10. It is simply unreasonable to hope that he even managed four pulled home runs, and six-to-eight hits to the left or left-center gaps over the next six weeks.

So of course, we must demand it. He must do this or be cut. Baseball is harsh, as people on the internet who do not play baseball, we must be harsher.