Expect to see lots of newest Tiger, Avisail Garcia
But for Jim Leyland, who threw rookie Avisail Garcia into the fire as a defensive replacement hours after his arrival in the big leagues Friday and will likely start him the next two nights, it’s more than just testing out a new toy or tool.
It’s using it for exactly what it was intended: Facing left-handed pitching.
“Why not? That’s what he’s up here for. If you’ve got a supposedly really good defensive outfielder with really good speed and really good arm, you got a close game, you’re supposed to have him in there,” Leyland said Friday.
Expect to see Garcia in the bottom half of the lineup the next two nights — probably around the seven spot, according to the manager — as the Tigers face Chicago White Sox lefties Francisco Liriano and Chris Sale.
Brought up Friday ahead of the first day of expanded rosters, in order to make sure he was eligible for postseason play, it’s been a whirlwind for the 21-year-old Garcia, who was still in Erie, Pa., mid-afternoon.
Seawolves manager Chris Cron gave him the news.
“He said, ‘You’re going to the big leagues.’ I said, ‘No way.’ He said, ‘Yeah, you have to hurry up and take the car and go to Detroit. I said, ‘Thank you so much for everything.’ I was really happy,” Garcia said.
“That’s what I want, to be here. That’s ... for every player to get to the big leagues, so I’m really happy.”
As exciting as it was, the promotion was something that he only half-expected, considering he was one of two top right-handed hitting prospects — along with the organization’s best, Nick Castellanos — on the Seawolves’ roster.
“I just knew I had to play hard and they will make a decision. ‘Me or Castellanos, me or Castellanos?’ Everybody said, ‘You or Castellanos?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, man.’ Then they called me up,” he told reporters Friday night. “I’m real excited. I try to make the team win the game the best I can.”
While Leyland jokingly said before the game that he wouldn’t say much to Garcia, other than ‘Hello,’ saying “I don’t speak good Spanish,” there are plenty of guys in the Tigers locker room who can give the Venezuelan native — who speaks English very well — advice in terms he can easily relate to.
“Go out there and play. Same thing, same baseball. He play good all season. He play with us in spring training. He feel confident. It’s what we need, try and go out there and play,” Miguel Cabrera said of the advice he’d give him.
“I think he got an opportunity to do some good things with us because we gonna support him, whatever he do on the field, he got our support and he’s got our confidence. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him. Go out there and play your game.”
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