Second baseman Marcus Semien is trying to make the most out of the opportunity with the Chicago White Sox put forth in front of him, and he is struggling. He knows it. The White Sox brass knows it. The fans know it.
Through his first five games this season, Semien is hitting.130 with an OBP of .200 while hitting one homer and two RBIs. Manager Robin Ventura placed Semien in the two-hole of the order because he had confidence that the 23-year-old could get on base and move leadoff hitter Adam Eaton over with regularity. Unfortunately, Semien got off to a slow start and has not been able to find his groove.
Six games into the season is not the time when one should press the panic button and take a starter out of the lineup, especially during a rebuilding season, when a player should be given ample time to prove whether or not he deserves to start. In this situation however, time is not on Semien’s side.
Gordon Beckham is continuing his rehab assignment in double-A Birmingham this week and is poised to be back with the big league club in the foreseeable future. Obviously, the Sox will pencil Beckham into the lineup right away once he returns to the 25-man roster, but the team is faced with a difficult decision: who do they send down to the minors?
The options are Semien and Leury Garcia. The decision might appear obvious. GM Rick Hahn should send down Garcia because he provides less offensively than Semien, who is seen as core part to the future while Garcia’s ceiling is that of an above average utility infielder. While this might be the case, it should be Semien, not Garcia, that has to pack his bags for Charlotte once Beckham returns.
It is clear that Semien needs more work in order to further his development. Sitting on the bench and receiving spot starts at second and third would not help him. He should return to the minors where he can work on his bat speed and his ability to drive the ball the opposite way every single game. HE should focus on working to improve defensively at one position, second, instead of having to work the hot corner when he gives Conor Gillaspie a spell.
Unlike Garcia, Semien would not be best suited in a role coming off the bench.
Garcia should stay in the majors because he provides the only form of speed for the Sox off the bench. The piece the team received in the Alex Rios deal last season, Garcia is the stereotypical bench player. His speed makes him a pest on the basepaths for opposing pitchers, and he is an adequate enough defender to come in as a defensive replacement late in games.
The former was shown in the Sox’ wild pitch walk-off victory against the Minnesota Twins as Garcia flew around the bases and scored the winning run. He does not have to return to the minors to fine-tune his mechanics, because he already has mastered what the team will call on him to do.
Garcia will never be a plus guy at the plate or an everyday player for that matter. The Sox are not concerned about that. They just need him to be their source of speed and defense off the bench — two things the Sox will drastically miss if they send down Garcia instead of Semien once Beckham returns.