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Terry Francona: Jose Abreu seems to be a pitch ahead; Sox edged 3-2

Updated: September 30, 2014 6:35AM

As the 2014 season winds down, White Sox slugger Jose Abreu continues to surprise and impress.

Abreu’s go-ahead single in the seventh inning Wednesday night caught Indians manager Terry Francona a little off-guard.

“It was about seven, eight inches out of the strike zone,” Francona said. “That was a hell of a pitch.”

Francona compared Abreu to two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera before the Indians edged the Sox 3-2 Thursday night.

“He’s making adjustments along the way,” Francona said. “He seems to be a pitch ahead of pitchers as opposed to a pitch behind. You can’t just throw him breaking balls.”

Abreu’s power has diminished and his slugging percentage has dipped nearly 40 points in the last month, but his batting average and on-base percentage are on a steady rise.

Manager Robin Ventura said Abreu has become a more complete player over the season, perhaps most notably on defense.

“He had a little bit of an issue with balls in the dirt early in the year, and he’s gotten a lot better,” Ventura said. “He’s gotten to watch and absorb some of that with [Paul Konerko] over there, just how you use your body and how you get around. His footwork is a lot better.”

Three RBI shy of 100, Abreu would become the fourth Sox rookie to reach the milestone and the first in more than three decades. His 100th RBI also would make him only the third first-year player to have 30 doubles, 30 home runs and 100 RBI in a season, joining Albert Pujols and Ted Williams.

Celebrating JRW

The Sox, who will be honoring Jackie Robinson West for its run to the Little League World Series final during a pregame ceremony Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field, will make a $20,000 donation to the Jackie Robinson West Little League and provide the 13 players with jerseys autographed by every member of the Sox.

The Sox are hosting the JRW players and coaches and their families for the evening game of the doubleheader against the Tigers, and the club is encouraging fans to wear gold in their honor.

The Little League team also will be commemorated with a plaque at the Cell that will be unveiled during the 2015 season.

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