CHICAGO – Bats in hand, Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada walked into the White Sox’s clubhouse before Wednesday night’s game against the New York Yankees.
Returning from the indoor batting cage at Guaranteed Rate Field, Abreu worked on maintaining one of the most consistent swings in the major leagues.
Moncada worked on finding his swing.
The Sox’s strikeout-prone second baseman couldn’t ask for a better hitting partner than Abreu, who Tuesday night became the 18th player in major league history to hit 20 or more home runs in each of his first five seasons.
“Having the opportunity to work with him every day is something really special,” Moncada said through an interpreter. “He likes to work, and you are always learning from him – the things that he does, how he handles himself. I always thank him for allowing me to be close to him.”
Nearing the end of his fifth season with the Sox, the 31-year-old Abreu arguably is having his best year.
With little protection in the lineup, Abreu leads the Sox in almost every hitting category, including average (.269), home runs (20), RBIs (67) and on-base percentage (.330).
“He’s a guy that we all love,” manager Rick Renteria said. “We know his routine, we know how he goes about preparing every single day. We know that he wants to play every day. I wasn’t here when he first arrived in Chicago. I just happen to be the beneficiary of him being here now.”
A .301 hitter over his first four seasons with the Sox, Abreu’s average is down this year.
An extended slump – the first baseman batted .212 in June and .233 in July – dragged the average down, but Abreu pulled out of it and is hitting .387 in August.
“I feel completely different from what I was feeling probably a month or a month and a half ago,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I worked hard just to try to overcome that rough moment that I was passing through. I had the support of a lot of people around me, and that’s important.
“I learned a lot during that moment. I proved to myself that I’m able to overcome those situations, and now I’m just happy and I’m just trying to enjoy this moment. But at the same time, I’m trying to keep moving forward. I want to finish the season strong.”
A fairly simple adjustment has put the thunder back in Abreu’s bat.
“Just keeping my hands inside, close to my body when I’m swinging at the ball, that has been the adjustment,” he said.
Abreu’s name has been floated in trade rumors for the past two seasons, but he’s still with the Sox and has one more year on his contract.
Playing on a team with a winning record is one goal Abreu has yet to achieve, but he’s hoping to still be on the Sox’s roster when all of the young talent in the minor leagues makes it to the majors.
“We have a very good system,” Abreu said. “It’s a matter of us waiting for the right moment, for all the effort and all the progress those guys are making to come to fruition. We are going to be in a very good position as soon as that happens.”
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