Defeat can't hide White Sox's talent

CHICAGO -- Even in sweeping the Chicago White Sox during a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field, the Baltimore Orioles can see the building blocks of an opposing team on the rise.

The time might not be now for the White Sox, who fell to a season high nine games under .500 (59-68) after a 4-3 defeat to the Orioles. But the runway is almost visible from here.

Avisail Garcia hit a home run in the first inning Wednesday, a day after Jose Abreu hit his own long ball, leaving Orioles manager Buck Showalter to take notice.

“[Garcia] is just ... he's ... I'm glad he's somebody else's problem,” Showalter said after his American League East team completed the sweep. “They're going to be a good club to be reckoned with. They're in their process and they've got the pieces there when they get everybody healthy, so you just feel fortunate to catch ’em on a little different side of the season and get out of here.”

The White Sox certainly want to see what their offense would look like when healthy. Garcia played for just eight games in April before he went down with a shoulder injury for four months on the day after he hit his first two home runs of the season.

Wednesday’s homer was just his third of the year.

“Yeah, you know, it's hard because I lost a lot of time and being here, you gotta work hard for that because the pitching here is not easy,” Garcia said. “So you gotta work hard, be focused and swing at good pitches.”

Garcia really could be hitting his stride once Adam Eaton returns, likely next week. Eaton has been out with an oblique injury. Perhaps then the White Sox can finally see an extended run with their new leadoff man and their relatively new power threats in Abreu and Garcia.

Abreu hit third in Wednesday’s lineup while Garcia was in the cleanup spot, presenting a back-to-back challenge that could be as good as any in the league moving forward.

“Yeah, I think we have a lot of talent for the future,” Garcia said. “I think Abreu is amazing. Alexei [Ramirez], [Alejandro] De Aza, [Dayan] Viciedo, me, [Paul] Konerko, we have a lot of future. Let's see what's going to happen; you gotta keep working.”

Well, Konerko might not be part of the future, but he is around for another five-plus weeks to pass the torch to the next generation of White Sox power hitters. Garcia knows he can take it and run with it only if he is healthy, which is why he is now playing it safe in the outfield.

On balls that he otherwise might have made a diving attempt to catch in the series, Garcia stayed on his feet instead. He might be missing out on the chance to make a great catch, but he wants to be around to make up for potential runs lost with his offense. Garcia hurt his shoulder during the second week of the season while trying to make a diving catch in right field.

“As we see him go along, we're going to like what we see,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I think people are going to like what they see. He's a good young player, and it's nice to have him back.”

Progress is coming fast for Garcia now. It might not be coming as fast for the White Sox as a whole, but the positive pieces, like Garcia, are easy to see.

“Yeah, I feel great right now,” Garcia said. “Last night I didn't feel very good, but we've been working hard in the cage. The hitting coach told me a couple things, so I put it in the game. So that's why you see the work today.”