Jose Abreu is a power metronome for the White Sox

CHICAGO – Going out to dinner with reigning American League winner Jose Abreu Most Valuable Player Award , can be a challenge. At least...


CHICAGO – Going out to dinner with reigning American League winner Jose Abreu Most Valuable Player Award, can be a challenge. At least that’s the case for his Chicago White Sox teammates who are trying to pay their fair share.

“He’s always trying to pay,” third baseman Yoan Moncada said of Spain. “You want to pay but you can’t.”

“You have to stop him,” added left fielder Eloy Jimenez. “He likes to pay. Just because he earns more doesn’t mean he has to buy all the food.

In many ways, on and off the pitch, the White Sox revolve around Abreu, their first everyday baseman since 2014. When they traded stalwarts like Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana in 2017 to rebuild the list and come out of defeat, they made Abreu a cornerstone. And as the White Sox are reborn as one of baseball’s most exciting teams and will soon claim their first AL Central crown since 2008, Abreu, 34, has stayed in exactly the same place – a run-producing slugger at heart. . roster and a team leader at the clubhouse.

“At the start of this process I said a few times that we probably like Jose more than the other teams, just because we had the benefit of seeing the impact he has in the clubhouse,” said Rick Hahn, general manager of the White Sox. noted.

“And certainly everyone can see what he’s doing on the pitch and the value of offensive and defensive production. But we’re sort of improving that a bit because we know he’s basically a model of what we want guys to be when they wear a White Sox uniform. “

Like many Cuban baseball players fleeing to pursue their major league dreams, Abreu endured a heartbreaking defection come to the United States. In 2013, he left on a boat to Haiti from Cuba, where he had played for the Elefantes de Cienfuegos of the Serie Nacional and was earning around $ 20 a month. On his flight from Haiti to Miami, where his six-year, $ 68 million contract with the White Sox awaited him, Abreu said he went to the toilet on the plane, tore off the first page of the fake Haitian passport that bore his photo and false name, and washed it with a beer.

Quickly, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Abreu became a staple in Chicago’s roster. He was an All-Star and Silver Slugger in his first season, and won the AL Rookie of the Year award for hitting .317 with 36 homers and 107 RBIs. He’s been as reliable as any baseball player ever since.

Until Friday, only one person had more RBIs than Abreu (782) since the start of 2014: St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado (807). Only two people – Carlos Santana and Charlie Blackmon – had played in more games than Abreu’s 1,101 during that period. He once explained that his mother, whom he left in Cuba when he defected, is unhappy whenever he is not in training.

Besides his injured 2018 season and the 60-game 2020 season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, Abreu has hit at least 25 home runs and made at least 100 points each year while playing every day. In the era of modern baseball where traditional measuring sticks such as the RBI have been underestimated over more precise advanced measurements, Abreu has excelled in running races.

“They devalue everything at this point,” White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson said. “They devalue batting average, RBI. They just want home runs. But the guy has been consistent since coming here and he continues to work and improve as he gets older. Behind the scenes it’s totally different from what people see. In fact, he works and works and works.

Last year Abreu was named AL MVP for reaching 0.317 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs as he guided the White Sox, who have not won a World Series since 2005, to their first place finish. in the playoffs in 12 years.

As of Friday, he was hitting .263 with 29 home runs and 111 RBIs, his third straight season leading the AL in home run production. He played in 140 of his team’s 147 games, overcoming gashes, bruises and hits that could send others to the injured list. (Opponents try to neutralize Abreu, who is standing near the plate, by throwing him, so he’s been hit 19 times until Friday, fourth in baseball.)

“He gets ready, no matter how much pain or tired he is or whatever, and takes the task,” White Sox manager Tony LaRussa said. “He’s getting ready to play and he’s playing with a lot of enthusiasm and tenacity. It’s a special kind of digging tenacity that goes beyond his talent.

After colliding with Kansas City Royals third baseman Hunter Dozier in May, Abreu suffered a black eye, facial laceration and knee contusion. He tried to play Game 2 of the doubles program that day and was called off by LaRussa and the medics, but was back in the lineup the next day.

“This has been time and time again where there have been situations where you think this guy is going to be down for a potentially extended time, and he seems to want to get back to the health of the label,” Hahn said. “It’s amazing.”

Although Abreu refused to speak (“sorry brother,” he said in Spanish), his teammates and coaches said what they appreciated most about him was his consistency: as a player of all. days, as a hitter who can slow his heart rate down in key moments. , and as a quieter example for a young and noisy team.

Anderson, another centerpiece of the White Sox roster, has stated before and during games that he asks Abreu for his plan against opposing pitchers and adapts it for himself. Infielder-outfielder Leury Garcia, who has played with Abreu since 2014, said he would often show up to the team’s spring training center in Arizona at 6 a.m. to find Abreu had turned up. an hour earlier to lift weights.

On several occasions after long games, starter Lucas Giolito said he was about to come out when he saw Abreu lifting weights or hitting inside batting cages long after midnight because he was not. not satisfied with his strikes that night.

“He’s one of the guys who, when I look back on my career, will feel very lucky to share the dressing room with him for several years,” said Giolito, who, along with All-Stars Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon, forms a spin that has been among the best in baseball. “The loyalty he has to this team is quite unmatched.

Abreu has said on several occasions that he wants to end his career with the White Sox. After his original contract expired after the 2019 season, he accepted a three-year, $ 50 million contract.

“The last time he was a free agent, Jose said, ‘Even if they don’t re-sign me I’m going to re-sign here,” Hahn said, before laughing. And Jerry Reinsdorf, our owner said, ‘I don’t want Jose to play a game in another team’s uniform.’ And I pointed out that that’s probably not the way you teach negotiation in college negotiation classes. But I won’t be surprised if a similar mentality is in play next time around.

For Abreu, the White Sox are perfect. The team has a long history of acquiring Cuban players – starting with an exchange for outfielder Minnie Minoso, who was considered the first Black Latino star in the major leagues in 1951 – and Abreu carried this torch with pride.

So when the White Sox traded to Moncada, a former Abreu teammate in Cuba, in July 2017, Abreu insisted on pick him up at the airport instead of the team sending a car. Abreu took Luis Robert, another Cuban; Moncada and Jimenez, from the Dominican Republic, under his wing and call them his sons – and the group of players in their mid-twenties have flourished with the White Sox.

Romy Gonzalez, a Cuban-American infielder from Miami, was called up to the major leagues this month. And in the weeks to come, Abreu and Gonzalez, of Cuban descent but born and raised in Miami, spoke more, including about their common heritage.

“Everything you hear is true,” Gonzalez said. “It’s the man.”

“He always gives us wisdom and takes care of the whole team, especially the young players with little experience and who don’t know much about the way things are done here,” said Robert.

After four White Sox players were named All-Stars in July, closest Liam Hendriks said Abreu gave each of them – Anderson, Lynn, Rodon and himself – a nice bottle of liquor. signed by the team. Although Hendriks said he couldn’t drink it due to liver disease, he appreciated Abreu’s thoughtfulness and will display the memento on his coat at home.

“He takes care of us,” Hendriks said. “And now, we hope we can get her some shimmering jewels at the end of this season.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Jose Abreu is a power metronome for the White Sox
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