White Sox rookie star Jose Abreu must start stirring again
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter June 8, 2014 10:50PM
Updated: June 9, 2014 3:45PM
ANAHEIM, Calif. — It’s tough to gauge who had a worse night Saturday, Chris Sale or Jose Abreu.
Sale had one bad inning that included a game-tying grand slam by Mike Trout that made him “want to rip my own head off.” Abreu struck out four times, all swinging at pitches down and/or out of the strike zone.
Sale promised that the sun would come up Sunday, and there it was, shining on the Sox and Angels for their afternoon series finale. But the mood was dark after the Sox were swept for the first time this season with a 4-2 loss.
If Sale had the toughest game, Abreu had the toughest series. He went 1-for-12, the only hit a double in the first inning Friday. It looks like a poorly timed mini-slump for a team that is bracing for the Tigers’ arrival at U.S. Cellular Field. On Thursday, the Sox were 2½ games behind the American League Central leaders and beginning to hint that maybe, just maybe, they could pester the Tigers for a couple more months. But by the time they left Southern California, the Sox were 4½ games behind.
“We know these are kind of tell-tale games coming up, so we’re excited,” said center fielder Adam Eaton, who drove in one of the Sox’ runs with a single in the eighth inning. “We’re going to flush these and focus on the future.”
Abreu was flushing his four strikeouts from the night before.
“These things happen in baseball,” he said through a translator as he prepared for the game Sunday.
Then he encountered more difficulty, rolling three ground balls to shortstop Erick Aybar against Angels lefty C.J. Wilson — two of them for double plays — and popping out to short left field against closer Ernesto Frieri leading off the ninth.
“They are throwing the pitches, and I’m not doing my part by swinging at those pitches out of the zone,” Abreu said. “Things that are not characteristic of me. But that’s what they are doing. The one who has to make adjustments is me.”
Abreu was the designated hitter after playing five consecutive games at first base since coming off the disabled list with inflammation in his left ankle. He ranks among the league leaders with 17 home runs and 47 RBI despite missing 14 games.
The AL Player of the Month in April homered in his first two games back Monday and Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. He has gone flat in the short time since, but it’s not like the Angels uncovered a secret to get him out.
“For the most part, they’re doing what they do to everybody else,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You try to pound guys in and keep them from extending their arms and throw some junk in the dirt and get them thinking inside. The same stuff they do to everybody. He’s making adjustments. They’re making adjustments. He’s a smart enough guy to make adjustments, so I expect him to do that.”
Abreu is wearing a brace and orthotics to help prevent any swelling in the ankle. He looks to be moving around well enough and said he feels great.
“I really have to thank the people that helped me in one way or another to get back to being in shape to play,” he said.
“The equipment that I’m using is really good. It’s very comfortable. It expands, it’s easy to wear and it’s holding up pretty good.”
It will be interesting to see how the Sox hold up against the Tigers. Having Abreu back to normal would help in a big way.