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Details emerge, but Jose Abreu mum on ‘emotional’ story of defection from Cuba

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Details of Jose Abreu’s defection from Cuba have been hard to come by, in large part because of Abreu’s wish for privacy on what he considers to be a sensitive subject, but the White Sox slugger was somewhat more revealing during an interview with Chicago Magazine.

“It was dangerous,” Abreu said of the journey that took place in the middle of a night in August 2013. “The waves were high but the Lord was at our side. God gave us the chance to reach our destination.”

The scene described in the article published today is of Abreu, his fiancee, parents, sister and brother-in-law huddled close together on a boat headed from Cuba to Haiti.

“Jose was scared for his life in that little boat,” minor league catcher Adrian Nieto, a teammate of Abreu’s in his first season in 2014, said. “Everybody was freaking out.”

But Abreu was described as the tower of strength in the middle of it all.

“He told me many times: ‘If it’s everybody’s life or mine, I’m going to make sure my parents and my sister live before I do,’ ” Nieto said.

Asked about the magazine article Monday morning at the White Sox spring training complex, Abreu again declined to elaborate.

“I agreed to the interview,” Abreu said through a translator. “I don’t know what they have written. But I don’t feel very comfortable talking about my journey from Cuba to the United States.”

Abreu would only say that it was an emotional time and it remains an emotional subject.

“Yeah I don’t want to discuss,” he said. “It’s very sensitive and I don’t want to remember that.”

Having most his family with him now in the U.S. has made the transition to the United States easier. Abreu seems at ease and happy in the clubhouse.

“It’s completely different because my family is here,” Abreu said Monday. “For me, my family is everything. To be able to get them here is awesome for me. It makes everything easier for me around the team and around my life because I have their support.”

Abreu, who was fourth in AL MVP voting his rookie year, is having a good spring, batting .484 through Sunday. He has learned to handle failure when it occurs, as he shared in the story, drawing context from a TV show where he learned that lions hunting zebras fail four of five times.

“You have to realize that nobody is perfect,” he said. “So I ask myself, Why get mad at striking out? The lion doesn’t get mad. Tomorrow is another day.”

Here is a link to the Chicago Magazine story: