Ventura doesn’t think success will go to Abreu’s head
By Daryl Van Schouwen Staff Reporter April 6, 2014 6:20PM
Updated: April 6, 2014 9:07PM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Manager Robin Ventura has seen enough of Cuban slugger Jose Abreu to guess that success won’t change him. Abreu has made an impression but is taking everything in stride.
‘‘His maturity and professionalism haven’t changed,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘If he does get popular, it’s not going to change who he is and how he goes about his business. He’s a pretty grounded kid who just wants to be a good baseball player.’’
Abreu still is looking for his first home run, but there seems to be little concern that the long ball won’t be part of his game.
‘‘He understands what he means for us, where he hits in the lineup, the responsibilities he has,’’ said Ventura, who has used Abreu third and fourth in the order. ‘‘We’re very happy with where he’s at right now, and I expect him to get better just as the season goes along. He’s going to start seeing pitchers for the second and third time and have a better idea. I think pitchers have the advantage right now.’’
Abreu, who leads the White Sox with six RBI, saw his average drop to .261 with an 0-for-3 effort in a 5-1 victory Sunday against the Kansas City Royals. He was hit by a pitch for the third time and was victimized by center fielder Lorenzo Cain’s running catch in the eighth inning.
Ventura is impressed that Abreu has stayed within himself and is swinging only at strikes.
‘‘That’s the biggest key,’’ Ventura said.
Mend it like Beckham
Gordon Beckham didn’t play for the third consecutive day during his rehab stint at Class AA Birmingham for a strained oblique muscle on his left side.
‘‘This isn’t the kind of situation we need to or want to accelerate the timetable on,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said. ‘‘We want it to heal completely and then get him back out there.
‘‘He feels a stabbing pain at times or a tenderness and stiffness when he swings, and we are just not going to push through it.’’
Ventura 0-for-1 on challenges
Royals manager Ned Yost won a challenge that cost Marcus Semien a hit, and Ventura lost his first one when he thought Eric Hosmer should have been ruled out on a double play. The call stood because there wasn’t enough video evidence.
‘‘I wouldn’t say it went smoothly,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘Especially when you see the replay on the board, you can tell by the reaction of the crowd.’’