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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Tireless Abreu lets bat do the talking

By Doug Padilla

DETROIT -- The man of the hour made no comment Tuesday because he remains intent on being the man of the season.

With a collection of microphones and tape recorders ready to document every word from Jose Abreu after another night of exploits, the Chicago White Sox's rookie slugger simply waited out the curiosity seekers.

Abreu wasn’t hiding from those intent on hearing just how he delivered three hits, hit his 31st home run, moved into the major league RBI lead and extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

Jose Abreu
Jose Abreu capped a four-RBI night, which gave him the major league lead, by celebrating -- with a workout.
Instead, after such an accomplished game, he showed his dedication with a late-night session in the workout room followed by some muscle-revival tactics in the trainer’s room. It seems there is no group that can get a leg up on one of baseball’s most impressive bats.

Abreu’s four RBIs gave him 83 on the season, moving him past the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, who was on the opposite side as the White Sox rolled to an 11-4 victory. On a rare night playing third base this season, Cabrera engaged Abreu in a conversation at one point in the eighth inning.

If the Tigers’ slugger was wondering if Abreu was set on unseating him from two consecutive seasons atop the MVP voting, this was probably the time to ask.

“He’s not Miguel Cabrera, but he has a chance to be something like that,” said teammate Tyler Flowers, who had two hits and scored twice. “Every at-bat, every day, the way he works, that’s how I imagine Miguel works. It seems like he’s got just as much power, and similar kind of swing too. He can take balls in and drive them out to right-center. He doesn’t seem to get fooled too often. He’s a complete hitter.”

Abreu looks to have the rookie of the year award in his back pocket, but without the chance to carry a team that can dominate for long stretches, can he actually win the league’s top prize as most valuable player?

“I think so,” said pitcher Jose Quintana, who received an avalanche of run support for one of the few times this season. “I want it because this is my team. He’s a pretty good guy and good teammate, and he deserves that.”

Manager Robin Ventura thinks so, too. Abreu might not have talked Tuesday, but plenty of those around him had plenty to say.

“Well, we’re going to have to keep playing, but he’s one of the best players in the league and that’s a fact,” Ventura said. “Whether people put him in [the MVP race], I don’t know. But I know he’s up there with anybody who is running for it.”

It’s not Abreu’s fault that his team isn’t quite ready for a deep October run, but that scenario has been known to derail an MVP bid. It wouldn’t be unprecedented if it happens again, just difficult with guys such as Cabrera and the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout looking like they will push their teams into the postseason.

"He's [good]," Ventura said of Abreu. "He's going against a tough pitcher and he's spraying it all over the place. For everyone who thought they'd pound him in and he wouldn't pull anything, he's using the right-field line and hitting homers to right. That's the biggest thing he's done from the start of the season.”

Abreu's late workout probably meant he would miss the team bus back to the Detroit suburbs. It's a daunting cab fare to return on your own, but Abreu didn’t seem like he would let a steep credit-card charge get in the way of his routine.

He won’t let any hurdles get in his way, on the field or off it.

“What I find real impressive is he’ll have a couple of at-bats, or a day, where he doesn’t look good at all,” Flowers said. “But sure enough, he gets out of those quicker than anybody I've seen. The next day or one or two at-bats later, he's right back driving balls all over the field.”

The 18-game hit streak Abreu is on started the day after a hitless game against the Seattle Mariners on July 5. The day before that game, his other 18-game hit streak had ended. It means he’s had 36 hits in 37 games, the second time in franchise history a player has had at least two hit streaks of at least 18 games in the same season. Eddie Collins had streaks of 21 and 22 games in 1920.

Nobody in the American League has hit in more than 18 consecutive games this season so on Wednesday night Abreu can put another feather in his cap in Detroit.

"We're over the fact it's his first year,” Ventura said. “He comes every day, prepared, ready to work and it's a very mature approach.”