<
>

As season fades, Sox reunite offensive trio

CHICAGO -- The tag-team trio that was supposed to lead the Chicago White Sox's offense into the future was finally reunited Tuesday night.

Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu played in a White Sox lineup for just the ninth time this season and the first time since April 9 at Colorado, way back during the second week of the regular season.

That was the game when Avisail Garcia injured his shoulder, of course, and he originally underwent surgery that was expected to cost him the season. Credited with being a fast healer, Garcia was able to return to the White Sox on Aug. 16, but as fate would have it, Eaton was out with an oblique injury.

The band was finally back together Tuesday giving the White Sox another look at the three central figures of their roster rebuild that started at last year’s trade deadline. The White Sox still dropped their seventh consecutive game Tuesday, but in an 8-6 defeat to the Cleveland Indians, they scored their most runs since a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 17.

The White Sox look out of gas with a little more than a month to play, but the hope is that the Garcia, Eaton, Abreu trio will spark a late-season offensive push and provide some optimism leading into the winter.

In constructing the White Sox’s triple-threat offensive core, Garcia was added first on the day before the 2013 trade deadline when he was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in the deal that sent Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox.

Abreu was a six-year, $68 million free-agent signing this winter, and Eaton was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the three-team December deal that sent pitcher Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels.

“Yeah, I didn’t really notice that, but that’s right,” Eaton said about his second chance to play with a pair of heralded teammates again. “It’s going to be good. Spring training is where we got some lengthy time together. Hopefully fans will want to see us all play together [again], so it will be very exciting.”

Exciting isn’t precisely what the White Sox are looking for. If exciting is the byproduct of being productive, the club will take it. Eaton and Abreu have been able to show their value this season, and Garcia seems to have picked up where he left off when he batted a team-leading .304 from Aug. 9 last year until the end of the season.

In the eight games since he has returned, Garcia was batting just .214 before Tuesday, but his slugging percentage was .500, with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs. Perhaps Eaton’s return agrees with Garcia, who had a two-run double among his two hits Tuesday.

“I think Avisail Garcia is one of the more interesting young players in the league,” Indians manager Terry Francona said at the start of the current three-game series. “When they got him, I remember thinking, ‘Boy, that’s a hell of a [player],’ because he’s a really interesting young player. I mean, he runs so much better than people think he can, and there’s power in that bat and he can play all the outfield positions.

“He’s got a chance to be a really good player. And from our side of it, I guess we hope he’s not really ready to be hot and help them. And Eaton gives them kind of that spark at the top of the order. And then Abreu, being that like monster bat in the middle, man they’ve really helped their lineup a lot.

In fact, each member of the White Sox’s three-man offensive core had a hit Tuesday with Abreu picking up a hit and two walks, while Eaton had an RBI single in the fifth inning.

“It is nice,” manager Robin Ventura said of Eaton’s return from the DL. “I think any time you need a shot in the arm, it’s nice to have a guy that was in the middle of it when he was playing. I think any time you get back to some sort of normalness it’s nice, but you’re looking at a time when we haven’t really had him and Avi together very much, so it will hopefully be nice to watch.”

The White Sox’s offense had been stuck in the mud without Eaton. It scored three runs or less in 14 of its last 17 games before Tuesday, and the club went 4-9 without its leadoff man. Eaton was hitting .435 (37-for-85) in his last 22 games before he was injured.

With another offseason approaching and the White Sox still in roster-rebuild mode, the front office wants to use the impact acquisitions from last winter as a guide when moving into the colder months this year.

“That's absolutely our intent,” Hahn said of making more impact moves this offseason. “We obviously can't guarantee we're going to be able to make 'X' number of moves, and we're going to be able to hit on as high as percentage of our targets as we did last year, but it's certainly our goal to address ideally all of what we feel are our needs, before they shift, as quickly as possible.

“It has never been about, 'Hey, we got two things done, so we're good.' The fact of the matter is we didn't get everything done last offseason as we wanted to do, and we look forward to the chance coming up in the coming weeks, where we're able to get a little more aggressive in pursuing some answers out there.”