Somehow, Jose Abreu in White Sox lineup against RoyalsBrian Sandalowon May 15, 2021 at 9:24 pm

Jose Abreu and Hunter Dozier lie on the ground after their collision Friday. | Getty

One day after his scary collision with Hunter Dozier, Abreu started against Kansas City.

Somehow, Jose Abreu started at first base and hit fourth Saturday for the White Sox.

A day after his scary collision with the Royals’ Hunter Dozier, Abreu was checked by team doctors and given the go-ahead to play. Sox manager Tony La Russa said Abreu was eager to get back into the lineup after missing Game 2 of Friday’s doubleheader, and would’ve been inpatient if he had to wait until Sunday’s series finale to return.

That wasn’t the case.

The only waiting actually occurred before the game when the Sox held off on releasing their lineup until they knew Abreu’s status. During a phone call to explain the delay, La Russa and Royals counterpart Mike Matheny concurred the incident was unique.

“We both agreed I don’t think I’ve ever heard that kind of collision on a baseball field ever,” La Russa said. “The fact that they are both going to come out of it without anything serious is really a stroke of good fortune. It was scary.”

A long-term injury to Abreu would’ve been especially frightening for the Sox, who are already without Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez for maybe the rest of the season. Those fears were unfounded, and the Sox can move forward with the reigning American League MVP.

Leury Garcia said seeing what happened to Abreu was tough for everybody, and they thought the outcome would be worse.

“But we know Pito, what kind of guy, what kind of player he is, what kind of human. And he’s ready to go,” Garcia said before the lineup was released. “I don’t know if he’s going to play tonight or not, but we thought it was going to be worse. And thank god everything is fine.”

By playing Saturday, Abreu appeared in his 998th career game. When he hits 1,000, Abreu will become the 29th player in Sox history to play that many with the team. He will also be the 66th active player to reach the mark.

As for Leury…
Garcia entered Saturday slashing .219/.248/.271 after playing only 16 games last year due to injury. But without Robert, Jimenez and Adam Engel (strained right hamstring), Garcia’s role and importance has increased.

Garcia didn’t use last year’s lack of action as an excuse for his slow start, and said he’s been working to find ways to succeed and get on base.

“I don’t worry about the past. I don’t worry about the last game,” Garcia said. “I just worry about the game that I play that day. I’ve been working — I’m still working — on my offense, and I think at the end of the day, I’ll be all right.”

Naming captains?

Baseball teams naming official captains is unusual, and don’t expect La Russa to break with that precedent.

La Russa said he’s never done it because the season is so demanding and doesn’t want to give players another responsibility. At the same time, he routinely calls Abreu and Tim Anderson captain, as in “Captain, we got to get this one today.”

“Officially, I just, I never have thought that,” La Russa said. “The guys in the clubhouse know who the captains are and who the assistant captains are. That’s what counts.”

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