Jose Abreu to get much-needed breather after All-Star Game
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter July 13, 2014 8:38PM
Updated: July 13, 2014 10:51PM
CLEVELAND — Jose Abreu will have two days off after he participates in his first All-Star Game on Tuesday, and it will be a needed rest as he turns into the homestretch of his first major-league season.
Abreu played in his 82nd game Sunday, a 3-2 White Sox loss to the Cleveland Indians. That is only 12 games fewer than his Cuban Serie Nacional high of 94, so he will be
entering uncharted territory. Captain Paul Konerko knows what Abreu is facing, but he doesn’t
expect him to hit any walls during the dog days of August.
‘‘With the season he’s having, the work he’s put in and what he’s
accomplished, that won’t happen to him,’’ said Konerko, who is retiring after this season. ‘‘This is a special season he’s having, and you want to finish it off right. I don’t see him letting his guard down. With  games left, he looks determined. There is nothing that is going to stop him from getting where he wants to go.’’
Abreu will take a portfolio to the All-Star Game in Minneapolis that not even the Sox could have hoped for when they signed him to a six-year, $68 million contract in November. He leads the majors with 29 home runs, has 73 RBI and is batting .292 after a 3-for-5 day Sunday.
Konerko said it’s important that Abreu, who missed two weeks with a tender ankle, takes it easy Wednesday and Thursday before the Sox resume play with a weekend series at home against the Houston Astros.
‘‘The season is long; there is no way to get around it,’’ Konerko said. ‘‘You get better at it every year. This is his first time going through it, but he’s handled everything else so well that I have no doubt he’ll handle that, too.’’
Konerko said coping with the mental grind gets easier with age. The physical part is a different
story ‘‘because you have more miles under your belt.’’
Abreu is 27, so he knows his body well, even if he hasn’t put it through a 162-game schedule.
‘‘He seems to work smart,’’ said Konerko, who watched Abreu log long hours during spring training. ‘‘As we get into the season, he’s kind of tapered off with ground balls and tee work, so he’s smart. He’s a
rookie, but he’s not a rookie. He knows his body. I don’t think any of us have a concern.’’
Abreu is on pace to match Albert Belle’s franchise record of 49 homers. He collected his 50th extra-base hit in his 81st game Saturday, the fewest games it had taken anyone to reach that mark since Ted Williams did it in 80 games in 1939.
‘‘If we were in first place, they wouldn’t be talking about him for Rookie of the Year; they’d be talking about MVP,’’ pitching coach Don Cooper said.
‘‘I’m very proud of what I have accomplished this first half,’’ Abreu said through a translator. ‘‘I have to thank God for allowing me to do that. I have to continue to work and do even more good things the rest of the season. I’m looking forward to the second half.’’
Manager Robin Ventura might be inclined to give Abreu more games at designated hitter to keep some wear and tear off his legs. But he hasn’t shown many signs of weakening yet.
‘‘Most [pitchers] stay away from him now,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He’s been able to adjust and hit it the other way. He showed early that he has power to hit to right field. People pound him in and he’s pulling it, so now it’s a little bit of both. He makes his adjustments. He’s pretty good. I’m glad he’s on my team.’’