Leury Garcia will try to avoid head-first slidesDaryl Van Schouwenon March 1, 2021 at 9:49 pm

Chicago White Sox’s Leury Garcia fields a grounder during a spring training baseball practice Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) | AP Photos

It’s easier said than done, versatile veteran says. ‘In heat of moment, you just react,’ he says.

TEMPE, Ariz. — The White Sox need Leury Garcia to stay healthy, and refraining from head-first slides into first might be a way to go about that. But Garcia says it isn’t as easy as you might think.

In the heat of the moment, instincts take over, and they might not always be in the player’s best interest.

“That’s definitely something that you can control, that I try to control, but sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you just react,” Garcia said Monday. “It’s difficult.”

Trying to avoid an out, Garcia slid head first into first base in a game against the Tigers last August, tore a ligament in his left thumb and missed the last six weeks of the regular season. In 2017, he sprained the index finger on his left hand sliding headfirst into second base in Cleveland.

“But it’s definitely something that I’ve been working on,” Garcia said. “I’m not planning to do it. But we’ll see. I’m going to try to not react that way. I know you can control it, but it’s not always easy to do it.”

A switch-hitter, Garcia has value as multi-dimensional infielder and outfielder with speed, some power.

La Russa said Garcia “stood out with quickness, arm strength and stroke from both sides” when he was working in the Diamondbacks front office.

“Keep him healthy, a lot of ways he can help you win a game,” La Russa said.

Garcia, who turns 30 this month, is the longest tenured Sox.

Careful with Grandal

Catcher Yasmani Grandal (right knee inflammation) began ramping up activity Sunday after missing three days but won’t be pushed hard, La Russa said, it being only March 1.

Opening Day is April 1.

“Yasmani is definitely making progress every day,” La Russa said. “If the opening day was two weeks, maybe you think about pushing him a little, but it’s not two weeks from now, so we should really get it at a pace to where he’s really 100 percent when he comes back and he makes progress every day.”

The Sox, La Russa said knocking on a table and his head, are in good health a couple weeks into camp.

“[Trainer] James [Kruk]gives us a report at the end of the day and the first of the day, and overall, a little hammy here, guys are in good shape.”

Abreu might play Tuesday

Jose Abreu joined the team on Saturday after a positive coronavirus test (he was asymptomatic) delayed his arrival, and might play against the Rangers Tuesday, La Russa said.

Kopech and Crochet

La Russa on right-hander Michael Kopech and lefty Garret Crochet:

“Michael is improving every time out there, we’re going to go at the right pace to account for getting back on the mound after being away so long. Crochet is in real good shape, he’s had good work here in January when he was rehabbing. Every time I see him, sharper and as impressive as ever.”

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