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Updated: May 26, 2014 11:55PM
The White Sox beat the Indians 6-2 with their No. 3 hitter going 4-for-4 and their cleanup man belting a 426-foot three-run home run.
No, Jose Abreu was not in the lineup Monday. He was on the field before the game, though, testing his sore left ankle by taking ground balls, hitting off a tee and making it look like he might return when he’s eligible to come off the disabled list next Monday.
So with production like that in the heart of the lineup, who needs Abreu, one of the majors’ leading home-run and RBI guys? The Sox know they do, even though the Memorial Day victory before 17,075 was their fifth in nine games since the big bopper went on the shelf with inflammation in his left ankle.
That the Sox (26-27) haven’t collapsed without Abreu is a tribute to players such as line-drive machine Conor Gillaspie, who had three doubles among his career-high four hits, and Dayan Viciedo, whose homer in the third inning against Josh Tomlin (3-2) set the tone.
“I don’t think you see [Viciedo] swinging at stuff out of the zone as much,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s just become a better hitter. The home runs will come [he has five with 20 RBI]; he has that kind of power. He just needs to stay with it.’’
Abreu looked fine working out, and interpreter Lino Diaz relayed that Abreu said he felt great. Abreu has posterior tibial tendinitis and has been on the disabled list since May 18. His left foot is no longer in a boot, but he is using orthotics.
“It’s progressing; it’s getting better,’’ Ventura said. “The timeline right now is still the same.’’
The Sox’ official word on a timeline is that there is none. A brief rehab stint before he comes back seems likely, and the Sox would love to have him back in time for the start of a six-game road trip next Monday against the Dodgers and Angels.
In his brief time with the Sox, Abreu has had a positive effect on fellow Cubans Viciedo and shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who singled in another run to hike his RBI total to 36 and made yet another standout play on defense.
“We have a great relationship,’’ Viciedo said. “A lot of things he has mentioned to me, and I have given him some advice, as well. It’s been both ways.’’
“There’s something to it; I don’t know how much,’’ Ventura said. “Those guys are good players and so is Jose. I think having him here probably set the psyche and the tone of the offense. You get [leadoff man Adam] Eaton now at the top of the lineup and Abreu. The way they play, the way they swing the bat and do things, it does have an effect.’’
Gillaspie downplayed his performance that raised his average to .352. The last Sox batter to hit three doubles in a game was Paul Konerko, who did it two years ago to the day, also against the Indians.
“Truthfully, it was just one of those days,’’ Gillaspie said. “A couple of times they threw it right in the spot I was looking.’’
Jose Quintana (3-4, 3.61 ERA)left with a 5-2 lead. Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam and Scott Downs, who got the last four outs for his first save, combined for three scoreless innings.
NOTE: Tyler Flowers was ejected by plate umpire Ron Kulpa after getting called out on strikes in the fourth inning, Flowers’ first career ejection.