SAN FRANCISCO — Avisail Garcia immensely enjoyed the 5½ seasons he spent playing for the White Sox and the memories that were made.
It was how his time there ended that he didn’t like.
A 2017 All-Star outfielder who battled injuries much of 2018, Garcia was dumped by the Sox at the late November contract tender deadline after the team reportedly couldn’t find anyone to take him in trade. He ended up with the Rays as a free agent. Monday is his first trip back to Chicago.
He said he still doesn’t know why the Sox decided to cut him loose as they did.
“I was surprised,’’ Garcia said Sunday. “I did my best. I played hurt. I don’t know what they were thinking. Maybe I was too expensive for them. I don’t know.
“It’s crazy. I don’t know what happened. I don’t think too much about it. I never talked to them. They called me and I never answered the phone because I knew what was going to happen. … Whatever happened happened.’’
Garcia made $6.7 million in 2018 and was projected for a raise in his final year of arbitration to $8 million for 2019. He signed with the Rays for $3.5 million, plus up to $2.5 million in incentives.
“I’m happy where I am right now,’’ he said. “Really good spot. Really, really good. Good guys, good clubhouse, good trainers. Everything’s good. It’s been great. I’m making less now, but I don’t care. I feel happy. It’s not everything about the money. It’s what feels comfortable.’’
Garcia figures to get a warm welcome from Chicago fans. He said he doesn’t hold any grudges against Sox officials and will tell any he sees during the three-day series he appreciated the chance to play there. “No hard feelings,’’ he said. “It’s business, just thank them for the opportunity and that’s it.’’
Lefty Blake Snell is feeling pretty good about Monday’s start. He’s coming off a strong showing by mixing his pitches well in beating the Rockies last week, can draw on past success against the White Sox (2-0, 0.93 in four starts), and likes the chance to pitch in cool but not terribly cold weather.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it,’’ he said. “They’re aggressive in a lot of areas, but if you mix it up, you can definitely succeed. Got to stay strong with mixing it up and making them guess. I like my chances if I can stick to that game plan well.’’
Who made this schedule?
Major League Baseball and the White Sox teamed to make things difficult for the Rays on Monday with the scheduled 1:10 Chicago time game (2:10 Eastern). That’s after the Rays played Sunday in San Francisco and — with the four-plus hour flight and two-hour time change — weren’t due in town until after midnight. Though some starting pitchers fly ahead, Blake Snell wanted to travel with the team.
It’s Chirinos, with two W’s
Though slated to pitch behind an opener as he did often last year, Yonny Chirinos has made two starts and starred both times. He threw five shutout innings in Sunday’s 3-0 win, allowing two hits. In his other start, on March 31, he held the Astros to one run over seven innings. But that doesn’t mean he’s moving into the rotation as a traditional starter.
“He’s going to pitch,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s going to pitch a lot. I think, though, we like and our team appreciates the versatility, the flexibility that we have. But we know on any given day (Ryan) Yarbrough, (Jalen) Beeks, obviously Yonny, they can make starts if we need them to. Wilmer Font the same thing. But I wouldn’t really commit one way or the other.’’
• Outfielder Tommy Pham singled to extend his team-record streak of reaching base to 42 games, halfway to Ted Williams’ MLB record of 84 set in 1949.
• Infielder Joey Wendle (hamstring) has not resumed any “major baseball activity” and won’t be ready to come off the injured list when eligible Thursday, Cash said, but Wendle is “probably going to coming back shortly after.’’
• Kevin Kiermaier is likely to be off Monday against White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon, with Guillermo Heredia playing center.
Stat line of the day
1-for-13, 4 Ks
— Evan Longoria’s performance in the three games vs. his former Rays mates