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Pujols to Abreu: Don't change a thing

CHICAGO -- Comparing Jose Abreu to Albert Pujols is a slippery slope, since the latter has delivered results for more than a decade while the former is just three months into a promising career.

There is little denying, however, that Abreu enjoys similarities to Pujols, and the comparisons have grown with Abreu’s White Sox and Pujols’ Angels facing off this week in Chicago.

Pujols seemed to know what the White Sox had in Abreu way back in spring training, which is why he felt obliged to offer baseball’s newest power phenom a little advice.

"He has the ability and the talent to do it," Pujols said. "This game is about making adjustments. It's the same game you play in your backyard. It’s the same game you play in Little League. It’s the same game you play in the minor leagues, Triple-A, and then you get into the big leagues.

"It’s about being smart and making adjustments. That’s one of the things I told him back in spring training: That it’s no different than the game he played back in Cuba."

Abreu speaks of Pujols in reverent tones and has already expressed gratitude for the advice he received in Arizona.

Abreu has taken it from there, delivering one of the best starts to a career in major league history. His 26 home runs were the most in major league history form a player in his first 71 games, and his 67 RBIs were tied for sixth most with Wally Berger (1930) and Joe DiMaggio (1936).

But with Abreu, success never seems to be about him. He consistently mentions his faith and puts team results above all else. Yet there seems to be somebody else who inspires him to be the best baseball player and person he can be.

"Every time I hit a home run, I enjoy it, and more so because there's one person that really enjoys when I hit them, and that's my mother," Abreu said. "Every time I hit one, I know that she's happy."

Pujols has also provided inspiration. Comparing the two hitters might not be fair at this point, but it's so hard to avoid it.

"It's unfair, but it's fun," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I think that's what baseball's all about: comparing people. I think that happens all the time. Is it fair to put him in there? Probably not. That's a lot of expectations to put on him. But it's fun.

"You look at guys, you see the kind of year Jose's having, and people naturally would compare those two together. But the numbers Albert's put up have been crazy in itself. You'd like Jose to look to follow along that path if it's possible."

Pujols is definitely impressed with what he’s seeing, especially after Abreu hit a home run on a line to right field in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

"He obviously has [a] real nice, short, compact swing," Pujols said. "He’s obviously strong enough that he can use the entire field. He doesn’t have to be a pull-happy guy.

"Look at that ball he hit yesterday. I mean, there aren’t too many guys who can hit a ball out of the ballpark like that down the right-field line."

Pujols seems to think Abreu can be as good as he wants to be.

"It’s up to him," Pujols said. "It’s going to be about the more he’s around the league, the more adjustment he’s going to have to make. The pitchers are going to adjust to that; but as a hitter, it’s our job to adjust, too.

"Myself, 14 years in the league and I still try to make adjustments every at-bat. You prepare yourself for a pitcher tonight, and sometimes, the approach is not the same you thought it would be, so you switch up during the game."

During the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, Pujols reached first base and appeared to talk to Abreu the entire time, even though he had to turn his head to do it since Abreu wasn’t holding him on at the bag.

"He’s a real nice kid; I like him," Pujols said. "You don’t get much time on the base to talk. In Anaheim, I had a chance to talk to him for about 10 minutes. Just talking to him, catching up and seeing how he’s adjusting to everything.

"It’s tough, you know, not having his whole family here and coming to the States to play the game. It can be tough, but hopefully, he can continue to do it and stay healthy."

The hardest part seems to be everything off the field. On the field, it should be easy for Abreu, according to Pujols.

"He doesn’t have to change anything," Pujols said. "Why change something that’s working? He’s really humble. I’m pretty sure he’s a hard worker and dedicated and doesn’t take anything for granted."