Thursday, April 3, 2014
Abreu delivers in opening series
By Doug Padilla
CHICAGO -- After the first three-game series of his major league career, Jose Abreu put on a hitting clinic, and the Chicago White Sox's new middle-of-the-order threat seemed to pick up a new admirer.
It didn't take Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire long to realize his club had a lot to handle in Abreu, the 27-year-old Cuban defector who signed a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox during the winter.
Abreu had two hits Opening Day, one Wednesday and two more in the series finale Thursday, including a three-run triple that looked as if it would set up the White Sox for the victory until the Twins rallied.
So does Abreu look like the real deal?
White Sox manager Robin Ventura and Twins counterpart Ron Gardenhire both gushed over Jose Abreu's opening series.
"Nah," Gardenhire said before breaking out into a laugh.
Had Chicago finished off the sweep, the laugh might have been harder to come by.
"I'm glad I won't see him for a while," Gardenhire said. "The kid can really hit. We knew that coming in. We heard he was a really strong young man, and that's why we were pitching around him. No disrespect to Mr. Dunn."
Mr. Dunn, of course, would be Adam Dunn, who was the better option to Gardenhire even though he hit two home runs in the series. That's how good Abreu looked.
"The way the guy's getting the barrel to the ball, you just try to limit the damage when he comes up in a lot of situations because he seems like he's on," Gardenhire said. "He hits pretty much everything. Even when he makes an out he seems like he gets the barrel to it. He's a strong young man. He looks like he really knows what he's doing hitting."
Of all Abreu's at-bats in the opening series, his most impressive trip to the plate might have been his sixth-inning triple. With the bases loaded, Abreu looked eager to drive in runs, chasing two off-speed pitches to get into an 0-and-2 hole. He then adjusted, hitting a ball off what appeared to be the end of the bat. His strength carried it 400 feet, where it caromed off the center-field wall.
When the series was complete, Abreu had a .417 batting average, a .750 slugging percentage and a .533 on-base percentage. He drove in five runs and his nine total bases were second on the team to Alejandro De Aza's 13, and De Aza compiled nearly all of that on three home runs.
Manager Robin Ventura considers Abreu to be the epitome of a professional hitter.
"If we can get him up there with guys on, we feel pretty good about it," Ventura said. "He stays within himself to be able to put the bat on the ball, but he consistently hits it hard. That's the one thing that's impressive. In any situation he comes up, you always think he's going to hit something hard."