Last year at SoxFest, Avisail Garcia was the one player who struck me as larger than he looked on TV. He's not the tallest or heaviest of the White Sox, but even standing among guys like Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn, he more closely resembled a speed-rushing defensive end than a right fielder.
Apparently, that wasn't supposed to happen.
Rick Hahn, talking to Matt Spiegel and Barry Rozner on 670 The Score this morning, touched on this topic during a wide-ranging interview before this year's SoxFest. Rozner told Hahn that he didn't think Garcia looked as quick as he did in 2013, even before the injury.
Hahn confirmed this:
"Early on in the year, he wasn't quite getting down the line as quickly as he had in the past. He wasn't quite necessarily getting the balls in the gap like he had in the past, and we had those conversations with Avi as he left Chicago at the end of the year. We wanted to make sure he came to camp this year in the best possible shape that he can be; at the same weight that he was back in 2013 when we first acquired him and we saw him beating out balls to shortstop and almost beating out ground balls to second at times.
"Yesterday, he came for SoxFest, and although he and I haven't sat down and had a conversation yet, everything I've heard is that he looks fantastic, and that he played some winter ball, and he's fully committed to being that player again."
Eyewitness accounts back this up:
Garcia looking good. Sox saw him slow down as he got bigger in '14, asked him to lose a few. pic.twitter.com/TPLkBXI5Bk— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) January 23, 2015
Avi Garcia lost weight in off season. Smiled when asked how much. Said he didn't know exactly— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) January 23, 2015
Avi Garcia on present phys. condition: "I don’t know how much I lost, but I know I’m skinny. I don’t know how much, but I feel really good."— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) January 24, 2015
It looks like Garcia's a good bet to get the Best Shape Of His Life treatment in spring training, but it's more important that this story shows up in his defense. Either that, or Adam Eaton's going to have to expand the definition of center field to make up for the difference.