Chicago — It can be difficult to go out for dinner with José Abreu, who won the American League Most Valuable Player Award. At least for his teammates in the Chicago White Sox trying to pay a fair share.
“He’s always trying to pay,” third baseman Yoan Moncada said in Spanish. “You want to pay, but you can’t.”
“You have to stop him,” added left fielder Eloy Jimenez. “He likes to pay. Just because he earns more doesn’t mean he has to buy all the food.”
The White Sox revolves around Abreu, who has been the first baseman of everyday life since 2014, both inside and outside the field. In 2017, we traded off key players such as Chris Sale, Adam Eaton, and Jose Quintana to rebuild the roster and get out of the loss. They were based on Abreu. And the 34-year-old Abreu stayed in exactly the same place as the White Sox was reborn as one of the most exciting teams in baseball and soon claimed the first AL Central Crown since 2008. Of the lineup and clubhouse team leaders.
Rick Hahn, general manager of the White Sox, said, “In the early stages of this process, we often valued Jose more than other teams just because we were able to see the impact of Jose on the clubhouse. I said. ” Said.
“And sure, everyone can see what he’s doing in the field, and the value of offensive and defensive production, but when he wears the White Sox uniform, he Basically, I know how to accurately model what I’m looking for in a man, so I can improve that a bit. “
Like many Cuban baseball players fleeing to chase Major League Baseball dreams, Abreu endured a dire asylum to come to the United States. In 2013, he boarded a boat from Cuba to Haiti, starring in Cuban National Elephantes des Cienfuegos, earning about $ 20 a month. On a flight from Haiti to Miami, when a six-year $ 68 million contract with the White Sox awaited, Abreu went to the bathroom of the plane and fake Haiti with his photo and fake name on it. He said he had stripped off the first page of his passport, and washed it off with the help of beer.
Soon, the 6’3, 235-pound Abreu became an important part of the Chicago lineup. He was an All-Star and Silver Slugger in the first season and won the AL Rookie of the Year Award for hitting .317 with 36 home runs and 107 RBIs. Since then, he is more reliable than any baseball player.
Until Friday, only one person had more RBIs than Abreu (782) since the start of 2014: St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado (807). Only two players, Carlos Santana and Charlie Blackmon, played more games in that span than Abreu’s 1,101. He once explained that the mother he left in Cuba when he went into exile was unhappy whenever he wasn’t in the lineup.
Except for the injured 2018 season and the shortened coronavirus pandemic 2020 season, Abreu hits at least 25 home runs daily and at least 100 home runs each year. In today’s baseball era, where traditional measuring sticks such as the RBI are less important than more accurate and advanced metrics, Abreu excels at driving.
“They are devaluing everything at this point,” said White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. “They are devaluing the average RBI, RBI they just want Homer, but he’s been consistent since he came here and he just keeps working and gets better as he gets older. Behind the scenes, it’s completely different from what people see. He actually works, works, works. “
Last year, Abreu was named AL’s MVP for hitting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs by leading the White Sox, who hasn’t won the World Series since 2005, to the postseason berth for the first time in 12 years. It was done.
Until Friday, he hit .263 with 29 home runs and 111 RBIs, leading AL’s home runs for the third consecutive year. He played 140 of the team’s 147 games, overcoming nicks, bruises and hits that could send others to the injured list. (The opponent tries to incapacitate by pitching Abreu standing near the plate, so he was hit 19 times until Friday, the fourth most hit in baseball.)
“He’s ready to take on the task, no matter how painful or tired,” said White Sox manager Tony La Russa. “He’s ready to play, playing with enthusiasm and toughness. It’s a special kind of in-depth toughness that goes beyond his talent.”
After colliding with Kansas City Royals third baseman Hunter Dozier in May, Abreu suffered from black eyes, a laceration on his face, and a wounded knee. He tried to play a doubleheader second game that day and was rejected by Larusa and medical staff, but returned to the lineup the next day.
“There were many situations where you thought this guy would potentially go down for a long time, and he apparently wants to label his health,” Hahn said. “It’s noteworthy.”
Abreu declined to speak (“I’m sorry brother”, he said in Spanish), but his teammates and coaches said it was his consistency that was most grateful for him: everyday As a player, as a batter who can slow his heart rate at critical moments, and as a quieter example for a young and noisy team.
Another important feature of the White Sox’s roster, Anderson, said he would ask Abreu to plan for his opponent before and during the match and adjust it to suit him. Infielder-outfielder Leury García, who has been playing with Abreu since 2014, frequently appeared at the team’s spring training facility in Arizona at 6 am, and Abreu appeared an hour ago to lift weights. Said to discover that.
After a long match, starter Lucas Giolito said he was on his way out when he found Abreu hitting weightlifting and indoor batting cages after midnight because he was dissatisfied with his turn at bat that night. ..
“He’s one of those who, looking back on my career, feels very lucky to be able to share a locker room with him for years,” said Giorito with all-stars Lance Lynn and Carlos. I did. Rodon forms the best rotation in baseball. “The loyalty he has for this team is pretty unmatched.”
Abreu has repeatedly said he wants to end his career with the White Sox. He agreed to a three-year, $ 50 million contract after the first contract expired following the 2019 season.
“When he was the last free agent, Jose said,’I’ll be back here to sign, even if they don’t resign me,'” Hahn said before laughing. “And owner Jerry Reinsdorf said,” Jose doesn’t want to play in the uniforms of other teams. ” And I pointed out that this is probably not the way you teach bargaining in college bargaining classes. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the same idea came out next time. “
For Abreu, the White Sox fits perfectly. The team has a long history of winning Cuban players, starting with a deal with outfielder Minnie Minoso, who was considered the first Black Latino star in the Major League Baseball in 1951, and Abreu has been proud to continue his torch. rice field.
So when the White Sox exchanged for Abreu’s former teammate Monkada in Cuba in July 2017, Abreu insisted that the team pick him up from the airport instead of sending a car. Abreu took another Cuban, Luis Robert. From the Dominican Republic, Monkada and Jimenez call them sons under his wings — and a group of players in their mid-twenties blossomed in the White Sox.
Romy Gonzalez, a Cuban-American infielder from Miami, was called to the Major Leagues this month, he said when Abreu approached him on his first day on the team and said, “If you need anything, let me know.” Said he said. And over the next few weeks, Abreu and Gonzales, descendants of Cuba, born and raised in Miami, talked more about their shared heritage.
“Everything you hear is true,” Gonzales said. “He is a man.”
“He always gives us wisdom and takes care of the whole team, especially young players who have little experience and don’t know much about the situation here,” Robert said.
After four White Sox players were nominated as All-Stars in July, closer Liam Hendriks got a nice bottle of liquor (Anderson, Lynn, Rodon, and himself) signed by the team by Abreu. I said I put it in. Hendrix said he couldn’t drink it because of his liver condition, but he appreciates Abreu’s thoughtfulness and displays a monument in his mantle.
“He takes care of us,” Hendricks said. “And now we want him to be able to get some glittering jewelery back at the end of the season.”