KANSAS CITY, Mo. — White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Albert Belle kept the most meticulous book on pitchers he’s ever seen.
With one and two thirds of a season of major league games under his belt, Jose Abreu’s book probably isn’t as involved as Belle’s, but it’s coming along.
“I take notes,” Abreu said through a translator Friday. “I have a diary. I write every day. Some at-bats what happened in the game, that specific at-bat, what pitch was thrown to me in what count, in what situation. I have all of that information in my book.”
If pitchers are getting a read on Abreu, he seems to be adjusting. Abreu has hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games going into the Sox game against the Royals in Kansas City Friday. He was hitting .350 with five home runs and 18 RBI during that stretch and has hit three home runs in his last seven games. A strong wind blowing in over the center field wall at U.S. Cellular Field probably took another one away Wednesday in the Sox’ 6-5 win in 10 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays.
With five homers in his last 13 games following a 15-game drought, Abreu, who has been driving the ball consistently to right-center field, seems to be finding the power stroke that helped him lead the majors in slugging percentage during his rookie season last year. He doubled to right center in the sixth inning Friday against Edinson Volquez to score Trayce Thompson from first base with the tying run of a 1-1 game.
“He’s very professional in that way that he likes to be in the middle of the field, he likes to be inside the baseball,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Really it’s how hard he’s hitting it. He went through a period where his finger wasn’t feeling that good but he was still over there, it just wasn’t quite coming off the bat that hard. Now, just the authority it’s coming off his bat is much different. He’s had some homers lately and some that were close, but you like where’s at just because it’s coming off the bat so well.”
Abreu seems to be over the sore finger. He was the designated hitter in the first two games of the Rays series to allow his left shin heal up after taking a foul ball.
“I feel much better today,” Abreu said. “After the day off [Thursday], my leg feels fine. I feel good right now.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIIZmeaXMMMAbreu went into Friday’s game batting .295 with a team-high 19 homers and 64 RBI. He has six hitting streaks of 13 games or more since last season, the most in the major leagues according to STATS. No other player has more than two such streaks. The Sox, who are on pace to hit 134 home runs this season, which would be the lowest number since 1992, have picked up the power after the All-Star break with 28 (fifth in the American League). They’ve homered in nine straight games, and Abreu is leading the way.“I’ve been working on it since the All-Star break,” he said. “During the break I was watching some videos and some things I wasn’t doing very well. Thank God I’ve been able to correct that and to hit to the opposite field, and it’s something I used to do and I feel good.”Having that book hasn’t hurt, either, Abreu said familiarity with the league has been a plus.
“Finally,” he said. “This is the highest level in all of baseball. You have to make that adjustment. When you have the opportunity to know the pitcher better, that gives you some kind of advantage, an upper hand.”