Jose Abreu has two grand slams but he hasn’t found his rhythm yet. “I usually don’t start the season super hot,” he said. “I’m going to keep getting better.”
Jose Abreu described receiving his American League Most Valuable Player award from White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf before the home opener Thursday as real, as if to say it was a striking, profound moment. And surreal, as if to say he couldn’t believe it was happening to him.
Abreu won it in November after carrying the Sox to their first postseason appearance in 12 years, and he was able to reflect on it and embrace it for the entire offseason, but the Sox slugger who is hearing “MVP” chants during every at-bat of the Sox’ current home stand is still letting it sink in.
“It was a magnificent moment,” Abreu said through translator Billy Russo. “Just being there and receiving the award from Jerry, it was real. I’m forever blessed to be part of the White Sox organization and forever blessed to call myself Jerry’s friend. It was a surreal moment, and I really appreciate having the experience and especially him handing the award to me.”
Reinsdorf once handed a ring to Abreu after he hit for the cycle in 2017. He handed him $50 million for 2020, ‘21 and ‘22 last winter after handing him $68 million for his first six seasons on the South Side.
It has been money well spent. Abreu has produced consistently big numbers, led by example with a work ethic unsurpassed and has improved defensively.
If there is to be another MVP caliber season from Abreu, it has yet to lift off, his pair of grand slams notwithstanding. Abreu will have you know he usually doesn’t find a rhythm in early April, so you’ll have to take his word that a .200/.298/.375 slash line going into the Sox game against the Indians Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field will improve.
Abreu does have nine RBI, with only one produced by something other than a slam.
“It’s just who I am as a baseball player,” he said. “I usually don’t start the season super hot. I’m going to keep getting better. You know me, I’m going to keep working hard. I’m not concerned about my offense.”
The Sox, who entered Thursday leading the majors with 54 walks and ranking third with a .349 on-base percentage, are showing signs early on of being more patient at the plate.
“If we sustain that when our offense clicks, we’re going to be a very dangerous team,” Abreu said, but getting it clicking against an Indians pitching staff that threw Shane Bieber at them Tuesday and was following up with Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale to finish out a four-game series presents a challenge.
“That’s the good thing about this, we’re not in sync yet as an offense but we still have good things to show like the walks [and on-base numbers],” Abreu said. “It’s definitely an encouraging stat.”
The Sox are not featuring the full lineup that was expected to strike fear into opposing pitchers with Eloy Jimenez (torn pectoral) out for most or all of the season, Tim Anderson limited to six games because of a hamstring strain, Andrew Vaughn starting just five of the first 10 games and cleanup hitter Yoan Moncada struggling early.
Yermin Mercedes has made up for some of that with his phenomenal start.
And the offense will come together, Abreu said, perhaps sooner than later. He is telling teammates to block out outside noise in the meantime.
“Just believe in yourself. Trust yourself. Work hard and live in peace,” he said.
“If you do that, it doesn’t matter what people say about you or about the team. What matters is what you believe. That’s what I’m all about.”