Injury offers Avisail blessing of extra time with family
Hopeful of a late-season return, outfielder cherishing daughter, wife
CHICAGO -- There are two families that guide the life of Avisail Garcia.
One of them resides on 333 W. 35th St., at U.S. Cellular Field, where the soon-to-be 23-year-old figures to be the White Sox right fielder for many years to come. Unfortunately for the Venezuelan native, that connection was slightly altered in the present on April 9.
Garcia made a diving attempt of DJ LeMahieu's sinking liner to right during the sixth inning of a loss to the Rockies at Coors Field, and he sustained a torn labrum and avulsion fracture in his left shoulder. Those injuries required season-ending surgery on April 15, although the hard-working and upbeat Garcia still holds out hope of playing again in 2014.
Luckily for Garcia, as Father's Day approaches, his second family more than occupies his time and heart for the love of baseball he had to temporarily alter. "Lucky" sounds like a strange word for a five-tool talent who currently is undergoing four or five hours of rehab per day.
"Blessed" actually becomes a more accurate depiction where his 8-month-old daughter, Annarella, and wife, Anakarina, are concerned.
"For me, the family, that's the key for everything. Your mom, your wife, your daughter," Garcia told MLB.com. "And they support me a lot, more my wife, because she is here, but my mom, she calls me every day.
"My wife is here with my daughter, trying to spend time with them and, you know, just enjoy my daughter, she's growing up. I'm just trying not to think too much about what happened [in Colorado]. Just thinking about the future. Just getting better and working hard for next season."
Even if Garcia allowed himself to dwell on what might have been, his daughter has far too much energy to let him take in the negative thoughts for too long. Garcia lights up when speaking of his little girl, talking about how she's crawling, standing up and moving constantly.
She's always laughing, whether you are saying hi or goodbye to her, according to Garcia.
"It's unbelievable," said a beaming Garcia. "She's a cute girl."
Only one problem exists with the smallest member of his family, and it's a problem that Garcia addresses with the proper amount of humor. She already can say "mommy," but despite his best efforts, she has not added "papi" quite yet.
"My daughter is everything: Everything, everything, everything, besides my work," Garcia said. "That everything is different. That's my job, this is my family. It's more important.
"I spend time with them this year, because the past few years I didn't have the time to spend with my family. I was playing and all that stuff. This year, I'm trying to enjoy them and every moment, every second, minute, hour with my daughter. And teach her how life is going … or say 'mommy' or 'daddy.'"
At such a young age, Garcia doesn't believe his daughter could sense something was wrong with him or even deeply troubling after the injury. Garcia recounts the moment of impact, stating the he felt a "crack, crack two times," but he almost immediately felt more comfortable because X-rays taken in Denver showed nothing serious.
A stint on the disabled list was all Garcia expected upon returning to Chicago and having an MRI exam on the injured area, but the MRI showed the damage to the labrum. Hearing his season was over turned out to be utterly crushing news.
"You don't prepare for that, so it's tough," Garcia said. "You prepare for two weeks and then play, and then I felt really sad. I called my mom, my wife. They support me. Just get better and get ready for the next season.
"When you are injured, when you got a bad day, good day, we always learn about something. What can I say? Everything happens for a reason. God knows everything and has the control of everything."
Although Garcia still feels a little bit of soreness in his repaired area, he has improved and refuses to write off a chance for a late return this season. The White Sox applaud Garcia's optimism and hard work but have not changed from their original prognosis.
On the night Garcia sat down for this interview, following rehab work, he was worried about getting a haircut before going home. Garcia is at peace with the injury, but he still finds it tough to watch White Sox games because of his inactivity.
Something special is taking shape on the South Side of Chicago, and Garcia wants to be contributing to his baseball brothers. In the interim, Garcia supports the White Sox with this unexpected quality family time making the injury a bit easier to handle.
"We have a lot of good teammates. We have a chance to win this division," Garcia said. "But we've got to play like a family. Family, family, family. If we want to go far, we have to go together.
"That's very important, because when the team wins the World Series or American League Championship or whatever, everybody is together, everybody is like a family. We worry about wins, not about our numbers."