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Friday, April 11, 2014
Abreu-Thomas link a bit premature

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- It probably isn’t the best move to compare Jose Abreu to Frank Thomas right now, especially since the former hasn’t even played in the major leagues for two weeks.

A comparison like that isn’t fair to Thomas and the career he assembled, and it certainly isn’t fair to Abreu, who not only has a new league to deal with, but new surroundings in a new country.

Yet manager Robin Ventura sort of ventured there Friday, even though the White Sox manager has been careful to not put any expectations on his new slugger.

Ventura was asked before Friday’s game if he has ever witnessed somebody emerge as quickly as Abreu has since the season started.

"Yeah, they had Frank Thomas here," Ventura said, tongue in cheek. "He was pretty good. He made the Hall of Fame and everything."

In reality, that was Ventura’s way of saying that Abreu isn’t in unprecedented territory as continues his attempt to keep expectations to a realistic level. But Thomas probably wasn’t the best choice to prove his point.

"This is early [in Abreu’s career], but he’s good," Ventura said. "That’s just part of who he is. The age that he’s at right now coming over, he’s not a normal [rookie]. You are not looking at a 19-year-old kid coming over here and crossing your fingers and hoping that he’s good. He’s played against good competition before and proving it right now that he belongs in this league."

To Abreu’s credit, he is taking it all in stride and doing what he can to keep the focus on the team.

"Up to now, it’s been a great experience, it’s been a beautiful experience," Abreu said through an interpreter. "I just thank for all the support of the people and my teammates that make this start what it is. I want to keep on doing what I’m doing, but it’s been a great start."

While it looks as if Abreu has had an easy time adapting, he admits it hasn’t been easy. The pitching he has come up against in 10 games isn’t exactly what he was used to in Cuba.

"It’s an incredibly big difference,” he said. “Anybody who knows baseball can tell and knows the difference between the pitching between the game. It’s an incredibly big difference."

As for Thomas, Abreu said he knows all about the Hall of Famer’s accomplishments, even if they have met only briefly.

"I had the great experience of having met him," Abreu said. "We didn’t get an opportunity to talk about hitting or hitting in the big leagues or baseball in general, but I had a great experience with him. I look forward to at some point talking with him."

And those comparisons being made between him and Thomas?

"We all know what he’s done, we all know what he’s accomplished," Abreu said. "For any player to be compared to a legend, someone as great as him, it’d be an incredible compliment, of course."