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Jose Abreu’s parents proud of what son has accomplished

Updated: August 16, 2014 6:30AM



MINNEAPOLIS — When White Sox rookie Jose Abreu’s mother and father take their seats Tuesday at Target Field to watch their son play in his first All-Star Game, it will be a first of
another sort for them.

Jose Oriol Abreu and Daysi Correa not only will see their dream for their son come true on one of the biggest stages in baseball, but it will be the first time they see him play on U.S. soil.

‘‘Seeing him play tomorrow is going to be the realization of so many years of hard work, so much dedication,’’ Abreu’s father said Monday through translator Lou Hernandez of the Sox. ‘‘It’s going to be like we’re going to a big party. We’re witnessing this great thing. The dream we had for him is coming true.’’

Abreu’s parents have been in the United States for about two months, but they haven’t been able to attend a game. On Tuesday, Abreu — who leads the American League with 29 home runs — is expected to get into the All-Star Game as a reserve.

That Abreu, 27, is having success after signing a six-year, $68 million contract isn’t a shock. That he ranks among the AL leaders in
numerous categories this soon is a surprise to many, but not to his mom and dad.

‘‘We were convinced that he could be that good,’’ his father said. ‘‘He was just too good for Cuban baseball. His numbers were too good and too much for the Cuban
series, so we were convinced he could do that now.’’

Pausing at their downtown hotel during what has been an enjoyable time for them and their son, Abreu’s parents shared memories of when Abreu was a child and how he developed into one of the most feared hitters in baseball.

The first sign Abreu was destined for something special, they said, was when he grabbed a badminton racket at a photo studio and posed like a hitter on his first birthday. A few years later, his
father — a ballplayer of some accomplishment himself — took him near the railroad tracks not far from the family home and tossed stone and after stone to little Jose, who sprayed them all about using half of a broomstick.

‘‘He always has been dedicated, but the instinct — his baseball instincts and how you relate to the game and feel the game — that’s something that has always come naturally to him,’’ Abreu’s father said. ‘‘I taught him some aspects of baseball and how to play the game, but the instincts . . . that was always something that came to him. But he was always dedicated. He was always focused.’’

Since starting play in the Cuban National Series at 16, Abreu kept a detailed book on every pitcher he faced. By 26, he knew it was time to be a major-leaguer. That meant separating from a tight-knit family and leaving a 3-year-old son behind with his mother. It meant a new country, new league, new everything.

Abreu wells up when he talks about his mother, so you know it hasn’t been easy to endure.

‘‘It was really difficult,’’ Abreu’s mother said. ‘‘We passed through a really tough stretch there. Being that far apart and for that long, we’d never been apart.’’

Abreu’s calm and focus is what gets him through it, his parents said. But he broke out of his shell after hitting a walk-off grand slam April 25 against the Tampa Bay Rays at U.S. Cellular Field.

‘‘He never shows his emotions, but that day he threw the helmet, celebrated and came out of dugout and thanked the fans,’’ his mother
said. ‘‘That was like him saying, ‘I’m here to stay in the major leagues.’ ’’

As thrilled as his parents are, Abreu will be on the same emotional plane Tuesday.

‘‘I have goals, and I want to accomplish things,’’ Abreu said at the All-Star media session Monday. ‘‘I don’t know what to tell you. I’m sitting here, and I want to pinch myself because I can’t believe I am here.’’

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan



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