Currently on the 15-day disabled list because of tendinitis in his left ankle, Abreu said that when he returns to the active roster, he will make tweaks designed to get him through a long major league season. And for the record, the first baseman sees no reason why he wouldn't be able to return June 2, when he is eligible to come off the DL.
“Yes, I think definitely, I'm going to have to make some adjustments,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “It's not about losing some games, it's about the season, so I want to make sure I'm healthy throughout the season and I'm able to stay healthy. I have to be conscious about that and we're going to have to make adjustments.”
Abreu’s willingness to work hard has been lauded from his first spring hitting session in Arizona. He is generally considered to be a first-to-arrive, last-to-leave type of guy, but his old routine from Cuba might not be the best one for him in the United States.
The obvious issue is that in 10 seasons in Cuba, Abreu averaged 259 at-bats per season. He already has 173 at-bats in 44 games with the White Sox, and by the time the season ends, he could be pushing the 500 at-bat mark, assuming a quick return from the DL and continued good health thereafter.
“The first thing I assume we're going to do is my hitting routine is going to be adjusted a little bit,” Abreu said, wearing a walking boot on his left foot. “That's first and foremost. The other adjustments would have to do with being on the field and all that stuff, but we can make that happen. But probably the hitting routine, the amount of swings and things like that.”
It seems clear that Abreu has realized he was going to have problems maintaining his strength in August and September. The changes won’t necessarily prevent things like ankle tendinitis, but the fact that his injury gave him a chance to step back and assess matters could end up being a good thing.
“I just know he's feeling better, that's all I know,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He's starting to feel better, he's still walking about in the boot, but I know he's done all the treatment and all that stuff. All the reports are positive so far from [trainer] Herm [Schneider].”
One strategy the White Sox can use is to give Abreu more designated-hitter days, but Abreu isn’t a fan of that plan.
“No, DH is something I don't really like doing,” he said. “We're going to do this the right way so when I'm out there, when I'm playing, I'm able to play on the field. Obviously, those decisions are meant for the manager, but me personally, I don't like DHing.”
The only thing worse than being a DH is not being able to play at all.
“It's very difficult, no doubt about it,” Abreu said. “It's difficult to watch the game and not be able to be a part of it. The only thing is that I wish my team could win every time I'm not there. It is a difficult time.”