Thursday, March 20, 2014

So far, so good for White Sox rookie Jose Abreu

It's been a good spring for Cuban import Jose Abreu.

The White Sox rookie first baseman is hitting .308 with two home runs, 9 RBIs and an .838 OPS so far in Cactus League play. Maybe those numbers aren't eye-popping, but they are solid -- better than those put up by some of Abreu's more established teammates.

Abreu's contact rate has been respectable. He's struck out just six times in 40 plate appearances, or once every 6.7 at-bats. If that translates into the regular season, we can certainly live with that in the middle of the order -- especially if it's coupled with solid run production. I've watched a few at-bats on television, and Abreu's swing and approach look good to me.

In Abreu's first at-bat on Wednesday, he struck out on a check swing against Angels' left-hander Tyler Skaggs. In his second at-bat, Abreu took Skaggs deep on the first pitch he saw. That makes me hopeful he can make adjustments quickly.

In this 2014 season, Abreu is the great unknown for the Sox. The United States is new to him, and he is new to us. He's yet to play a regular-season game on American soil, and we have no idea how good he will be. If you asked me to predict what his season totals will be, I would struggle to even hazard a guess.

But I will say that Abreu seems to have the mental approach and work ethic to succeed. In fact, Sox brass had to tell him to back off his workout plan because he was working too hard. I'm anxious to see how Abreu will fare once the games begin for real in less than two weeks.

Here's a good article from that discusses Abreu's transition to the United States and to Major League Baseball. In particular, I like this quote:

"The pitchers have more velocity and more control, but you adjust to them," Abreu said. "This is a game of adjustments and that might be the hardest part. That's why it's important you have a clear head and understand what you are doing at the plate and what they are trying to do to you."

Indeed, it is a game of constant adjustments. I think this guy gets it. I'm cautiously optimistic. 

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