BY JON KRAWCZYNSKI
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — If Chicago White Sox manager Rick Renteria wanted to get Garcia’s attention in the outfield on Friday night against Minnesota, he had to be more specific.
Renteria put together a lineup of Avisail Garcia in right field, Leury Garcia in center field and Willy Garcia in left field for the series opener against the Twins, the first time in major league history that a team has started three outfielders with the same last name.
Willy and Leury Garcia are from the Dominican Republic and Avisail is from Venezuela. They are not related.
“That will be fun,” Willy Garcia said through a translator before hitting a double in his first big league at-bat during a 2-1 victory over the Twins. “We know each other. We are Latinos. I think it’s going to be something very special.”
There have only been three games in major league history in which an outfield has been filled with players of the same name, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Brothers Felipe, Matty and Jesus Alou all appeared in the outfield for the San Francisco Giants in three games in September of 1963, but they never started together. Each time, one was added as a defensive replacement late in the game.
“That’s pretty cool,” Renteria said. “It’s kind of a coincidence, but it’s a neat little point of history now.”
The White Sox claimed Willy Garcia off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates in January, and he hit .423 with two home runs in seven games for Triple-A Charlotte before being recalled to take the place of Melky Cabrera, who is on paternity leave. Garcia wore a wide smile on his face as he prepared to take the field for the first time and laughed when asked about the comfort of being surrounded by two other Garcias in the outfield for his debut
“That’s going to make this game more special because it’s something that is happening for the first time in the major leagues,” Willy Garcia said.
Special — and maybe a little confusing.
“If someone calls out for us by our last name, for Garcia, we’re not going to know who they are calling for,” Willy Garcia said. “Some people can do that just to have fun and make jokes, but that will be fun for us.”
Willy Garcia went 1 for 4 in his debut — he was thrown out trying to stretch his double into a triple. Avisail Garcia had two hits to extend his season-opening hitting streak to nine games and Leury Garcia got a hit and scored a run.
Less than a week after Spaniard Sergio Garcia won his first golf major at the Masters, these three outfielders put the Garcia name back in the headlines. In a season in which the White Sox plunged into rebuilding mode after trading ace Chris Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton during the winter, they welcomed the attention for the quirky bit of history.
“I know there’s a little buzz about that,” Renteria said. “I guess we’ll take it, whatever positive we can get out of it, absolutely.”
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