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Sox put slugger Jose Abreu on disabled list with ankle injury

HOUSTON TX - MAY 16:  Jose Abreu #79 Chicago White Sox steps plate first inning their game against HoustAstros

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 16: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox steps to the plate in the first inning of their game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on May 16, 2014 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 477583295

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Updated: June 23, 2014 1:27PM

HOUSTON — Day 1 without first baseman Jose Abreu was — gee, how to put this mildly? — an abject disaster for the White Sox.

Without the major-league leader in home runs anchoring their lineup, the Sox were blasted 8-2 by the lowly Houston Astros — the sort of no-pitch, no-hit scenario Sox fans saw unfold routinely last season.

It would be overly dramatic to add ‘‘no hope’’ to the above list, but the level of concern rose high when the Sox put Abreu on the 15-day disabled list before the game with an injury to his left ankle.

‘‘Right now, we’re looking a lot different [offensively] than we did a week ago,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. ‘‘You take somebody like Abreu out of there, it just looks different. And it needs to pick up
because he’s not going to be here for a couple of weeks.’’

Abreu, a 27-year-old rookie from Cuba, originally sprained the ankle during spring training. Since then, he has battled inflammation and soreness off and on. He looked particularly troubled by the ankle
during the first two games of the series against the Astros, leading Ventura to pull him midway through the game Saturday.

‘‘He’s a very strong man, obviously, a very tough man who’s competitive and wants to play,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said. ‘‘[But] I think it became clear to everyone who saw the game that he had gotten to the point where he was
basically playing on one leg, and that wasn’t going to work.’’

The Sox said Abreu was suffering from posterior tibia tendinitis, but Hahn acknowledged additional diagnoses haven’t been ruled out. Hahn said that further testing on Abreu would be done in Chicago and that Abreu would be fitted for a walking boot to immobilize the ankle.

‘‘It would be pure speculation at this point to guess that it’s something more serious,’’ Hahn said.

Hahn also was noncommittal about when Abreu might return.

‘‘Right now, it’s reasonable to believe that we’ll be able to resolve this thing within the 15-day period,’’ he said. ‘‘But since we do not know for sure, I’m not going to put a specific time frame on his return.’’

Meanwhile, the Sox hope they can stay strong without their strongman in the No. 3 hole. That didn’t even begin to happen Sunday, when their Nos. 3-through-6 hitters combined for one useless single in 16 at-bats.

Paul Konerko, who started at first base and went 0-for-4, will be the primary fill-in for Abreu.

‘‘For me, it’s just pretty easy,’’ Konerko said. ‘‘Tell me to play, I’ll play. Tell me to not play, then I won’t play. Just do what’s ahead of me that day, give it my all and do my best.’’

Konerko added that Abreu’s teammates have been impressed by the resilience and determination he has displayed in his efforts to stay on the field.

‘‘He has earned a lot of respect, not just because of the way he has swung the bat — probably not at all because of the way he has swung it — [but] because of that toughness getting on the field,’’ Konerko said. ‘‘Guys remember that stuff.’’

Sox fans only can hope that once Abreu returns to the lineup — ideally, after no more than 15 days on the outside looking in — his nagging ankle problems quickly will be forgotten.


Twitter: @SLGreenberg

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