Jose Abreu has led by example. He wants to lead in more ways than one, so the White Sox slugger will make another attempt this offseason to learn more English.
“I don’t know how [I’ll do it],” Abreu said through a translator Tuesday. “I just know that I have to do something.”
At the top of Abreu’s offseason to-do list is his wedding. He plans to be married Nov. 28 in Miami. His immediate goal before the season comes to a close Sunday is undoubtedly to get one more home run and three more RBI to become the only player besides Albert Pujols to hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs in each of his first two seasons. Numbers like that, and the way in which he goes about his business, make him a natural for a leadership role in the clubhouse.
Manager Robin Ventura was pleased to hear of Abreu’s desire to step up.
“It’s a good thing to hear because we know he operates,” Ventura said before the Sox opened their final home stand of the season with a game against the Kansas City Royals at U.S. Cellular Field. “We know how he comes every day and how he prepares and how he plays the game. Any time a guy like that wants to step up and lead up, we’re happy to hear that.”
Asked if a team’s best player can also be its leader, Ventura said of Abreu, “It can be both just because of how he goes about his work. There’s a lot that goes into it. But a guy who doesn’t speak a lot except he tells the truth and he’s very up front about it. So I think with a guy like him, it’s possible to be both.”
Abreu played on winning teams in Cuba, so grinding through two 162-game schedules with losing teams was a new, sometimes taxing experience on the first baseman who signed a six-year, $68 million deal two off-seasons ago. In his view, the Sox aren’t far away from having a winning team on the field.
“Everybody knows this season wasn’t good enough for us the way that we performed,” Abreu said. “It was good to get some experience to face the future and to build something for our future. There’s something good there. We have to keep working for next year and for the future.
“No doubt … we have a good foundation here. It’s just a matter of trying to work hard and trying to work hard since Spring Training. Everyone has to do their job. Absolutely I think that we have the foundation here to be good here next year. We came this year hoping we can win this year, but things didn’t go as well for us. Next year, I think we are going to be much better and we are going to be in contention.”
Abreu said he’ll spend the offseason enjoying his family. And he’ll continue working on the language, some how, some way. He knows enough to get by on the field, but he feels limited.He wants to be voice that is heard. “That’s my goal. I want to be a leader and I know that for that, I have to learn the language,” he said. “And that’s my focus for this offseason, it’s one of the things that I have on my list. I know if I can learn a little bit more of the language I can express myself in a better way with my teammates and my coaches. It’s going to help our relationship. It is good, but I think it could be much better. That’s the way I think I can express my leadership. I’m not just to be a leader as an example. I’ll try to say something.”