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White Sox’ offense struggles in 8-2 loss to Astros

Updated: May 18, 2014 9:57PM

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

Without the major league home run leader anchoring their lineup, the Sox were blasted 8-2 by the lowly Astros — the sort of no-pitch, no-hit scenario Sox fans saw unfold on a routine basis a season ago.

It would be overly dramatic to add “no hope” to the above list, but the level of concern instantly rose high as Abreu was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Sunday’s game with an injury to his left ankle.

“Right now, we’re looking a lot different than we did a week ago,” said manager Robin Ventura. “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.”

The 6-3, 255-pounder originally sprained the ankle during spring training. Since then, he has battled inflammation and soreness off and on. Abreu looked particularly troubled by the ankle during the first two games of this series, leading Ventura to pull him midway through Saturday’s game.

“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 team announced Sunday morning that Abreu was suffering from posterior tibia tendonitis, but Hahn later acknowledged that additional diagnoses haven’t been ruled out. Hahn said further testing on Abreu would be done in Chicago at least through Monday, and that the first baseman 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 non-committal in regard for a return date for Abreu.

“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 — who fell a season-high 8½ games behind the Tigers in the A.L. Central — hope they can stay strong without their strongman in the No. 3 hole. That didn’t even begin to happen Sunday, when their 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,” he said prior to the game. “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 were all impressed by the resilience and determination the 27-year-old rookie from Cuba displayed throughout his attempts 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. Guys remember that stuff.”

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


Twitter: @slgreenberg

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