Like most of his White Sox teammates, Jose Abreu is limping into the All-Star break.
A 31-for-172 slide since May 27 has dropped Abreu’s batting average from .319 to .253, and he has only four home runs and 22 RBIs over that trying stretch.
The recent numbers say Abreu should be heading home for the All-Star break, but on Tuesday, he will be at Nationals Park in Washington.
In a first for a Sox player since Frank Thomas in 1996, Abreu was voted into the All-Star Game. He’s the American League’s starting first baseman.
“It’s a big honor,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It wasn’t one of my goals to start in the All-Star Game. My goal is to play hard from the beginning to the end and to win games. If you take care of things you can take care of, good things will happen.”
Bad things have been happening to Abreu at the plate for nearly two months, but why?
“I’ve been talking a lot with [hitting coach Todd Steverson] about being more aggressive with the pitches in the strike zone,” Abreu said. “I’ve been doing that. Besides the results, I’ve been feeling very comfortable in the last few games, and I think I’m getting closer to where my offense can be and what I can produce.”
Opposing teams are aware Abreu has little or no protection in the lineup, and they’d much rather pitch around Abreu and deal with a hitter such as Daniel Palka or Matt Davidson.
“He’s had a tough stretch, but these things happen,” said Sox general manager Rick Hahn of Abreu. “We’ve seen All-Star-caliber players such as him go through 20- or 30-game stretches where they haven’t performed up to an All-Star level, which happens over the course of a long season.
“I do feel in part because of the way the regular roster has been at certain times, in part due to the injuries, he hasn’t had a ton of protection behind him.
“So he’s been having to carry the load of wanting to carry the offensive load himself, and pitchers have been able to pitch him a certain way because they haven’t been perhaps too concerned about getting to the guy behind him if they wind up walking him.”
His track record says Abreu is going to finish the year with 25 or more home runs and 100-plus RBIs for the fifth time in as many seasons.
The overall consistency and his high character are the main reasons Abreu is going to the All-Star Game.
“I’m so glad he’s going because it’s an affirmation of everything he works for,” Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He doesn’t like personal accolades, to be honest, but for him to be able to represent the Chicago White Sox, there’s no one better.
“I’d love for all of our guys to be there, and that’s foolish for me to say. But it’s an honor for all of us to have him go represent the Chicago White Sox.”