Jose Abreu: Time is now for White Sox to pull together, play better

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Jose Abreu (right) gets a high five from Avisail Garcia after hitting his fourth homer of the season Tuesday night. AP

Jose Abreu doesn’t want to this slow start get away from the White Sox. In one of his more candid talks with reporters Wednesday morning, the slugging first baseman called for the team to pull together after its 5-8 start.

“From my point of view, I think we have to make some changes probably in the way we are approaching the game,” Abreu said through an interpreter before the Sox played the Cleveland Indians in the rubber match of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field. “We have to be more a unit, like a team, the players, the coaches, everybody. Because we need to start playing well … better.”

The Sox did just that against Corey Kluber, and Abreu set the tone with a first-inning home run. He added a two-run double and the Sox rolled to a 6-0 victory. Jeff Samardzija pitched six scoreless innings to collect his first win as a Sox.

There have not been visible signs of the team coming apart in any way. More than anything, the Sox haven’t been hitting and have had more bad moments defensively and on the bases than they can withstand if they want to contend. During times when the team has struggled in the past, a common theme from Abreu is for the “team to come together.”

“No, I’m not disappointed for the start of the season, I have every confidence in this team,” he said. “We still have over 100 games left, we just have to keep working. Maybe at some point have a meeting and think about what we have been doing or what we need to be executing. But no, I think that we are OK. I hope so. I am very confident that we will be OK at the end of the season.

Abreu, who does not speak English, was asked if he would be inclined to call a team meeting.

“No, no. It isn’t my responsibility,” he said. “I don’t feel that way right now. Probably if there is a moment when I see that and the team needs it, and I can make the first step, I can probably do it, but not right now.”

The Sox were rebuilt during the offseason to contend, and find themselves in an early hole behind the Tigers and Royals, who are both 11-3. The Sox open a four-game series Thursday against the Royals, who swept the Sox in three games to start the season.

“When you have teams like Detroit and Kansas City who are playing the way they are, you don’t want to get too far behind,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You can bury yourself somewhat if you don’t play well so you want to get that going and get back into it. You have to play these guys a lot so you can make that up but you have to play well, you have to score runs, you have to do everything.”

The Sox rallied with four runs in the ninth inning Monday to beat the Indians and in their 6-2 loss Tuesday loaded the bases in the eighth to put the tying run on. At least they have shown some spark late in games of late.

“I think that’s true,” he said, “but I also think we have to start the game with that mentality and that fierceness to try to create opportunities, and not just wait until the ninth inning to see what happens.”

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