Garcia impresses in Tigers debut

DETROIT — All in all, Avisail Garcia’s first game in the major leagues was as good as he could have imagined.

In his first at-bat, against Chicago White Sox starter Francisco Liriano Saturday night, Garcia fought off pitch after pitch before earning a 10-pitch walk.

“I saw the ball good,” Garcia said. “He’s a good pitcher, but I saw the ball good every pitch. Fight, fight, fight, fight, get on base.”

In his third at-bat, in the fifth inning, Garcia faced right-hander Nate Jones, a hard-throwing reliever. With two outs and Delmon Young at third after a leadoff triple, Garcia hit a sharp single to right to score Young. That gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead.

“I didn’t try to do too much,” Garcia said. “Just see the ball and hit it. That’s what I was thinking before the at-bat.”

Garcia was at a loss for words when asked what he thought about getting his first major-league hit and RBI all at once.

“Wow. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t say,” Garcia said. “It’s a lot of feelings when you get a base hit and here and big run, winning.”

Tigers starter Max Scherzer said everybody was cheering for the 21-year-old rookie.

“Everybody remembers their first big-league debut,” Scherzer said. “Everybody remembers what it’s like to be in that situation. For him to be able to come up with a big, two-out RBI hit, that’s just a credit to his development.”

Everyone likes to compare Garcia to his hero, Miguel Cabrera. They’re both big Venezuelan players. Cabrera even affectionately refers to Garcia as “mi hermano” (my brother).

“Yeah, we make fun of him a little bit,” Alex Avila said. “He looks just like Miguel. Even the way he walks around. It’s pretty funny.”

Manager Jim Leyland was pleased enough with Garcia to him back in the lineup for Sunday’s game, batting seventh.

“Let’s not get him in the Hall of Fame yet,” Leyland said. “He’s played one game. Let’s not get carried away. He’s a nice-looking young kid and got a chance to be a good-looking player.”

Leyland said the reports from the Tigers’ minor-league people were that Garcia would be able to handle the stress of a pennant race at the big-league level.

“They all thought that he’d be fine against left-hand pitching,” Leyland said. “They didn’t tell me he’d get a hit off a guy throwing 100, a right-hander.
“I just told him have fun. He’s got to get used to this outfield a little bit; you could see that on the one ball. He did fine.”

Garcia finished the night 1-for-3 with the RBI single, the walk and a strikeout.

“He’s got a bright future,” Leyland said. “At some point, he’ll play in Detroit for a long time.”

Leyland still favors more replay

After discussing the way the umpires have been looking at replays to decide whether a ball is a home run or not, Leyland was asked about the possibility of more replay being used.

“I’ve made this point 1,000 times,” he said. “It does not make sense to me in a 10-1 game to go out and look at a home run and say, ‘Yes, it’s a home run that makes it 11-1’ … and in the seventh game of the World Series, a line drive that’s hit down the left-field line that’s clearly that much fair and they call it foul, but they don’t look at it.

“That doesn’t make sense to me.”

Leyland did say he was not in favor of baseball adopting an NFL-style system in which coaches are allowed to throw a red flag to challenge a play and have it reviewed.