Jose Abreu thinks he, White Sox have better second half ahead

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For the Sun-Times

The notion of a sophomore jinx is a foreign one to White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

With a .286 batting average, 14 home runs and 46 RBI, it isn’t as though he hasn’t performed well this season.

But coming off a season in which he hit .317 with 36 homers and 107 RBI on his way to being voted the American League Rookie of the Year, the difference is noticeable — especially because it coincides with the Sox’ lack of offensive production.

‘‘Probably sometimes I haven’t made the adjustment that I have to do to get better results,’’ Abreu said through interpreter Billy Russo. ‘‘That happens during a long season. Sometimes you are struggling, sometimes you are good.

‘‘The things you have to try to find are the rhythm and the consistency in this whole season, and probably the results this year aren’t as good as last year. But it’s because of me. It’s not what the pitchers [are doing] or whatever; it’s because of me.’’

Abreu dismissed suggestions his right index finger still might be bothering him. He injured it in May and missed several games, but there was lingering soreness through the first half of the season.

‘‘I’m fine right now,’’ he said. ‘‘Physically, I feel good. The [All-Star] break helped me to recuperate and take a little break. I spent time with my family, and that’s also important for me. It was good to have those four days off.’’

Abreu, though, started the second half by going 1-for-15 against the Kansas City Royals. Manager Robin Ventura said he thinks Abreu might be feeling the weight of the Sox’ hitting woes.

‘‘I think he would like to do a lot more than he’s doing, so some of that [frustration] probably creeps in,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘You have to be able to grind through that.

‘‘It’s a long year. He understands that, and he’s gone through it before. This is his second year, so it’s part of going through it, how they’re pitching you. There’s probably a little bit of [pitchers adjusting to Abreu], but you still have to be mentally tough and grind through that.’’

Abreu also is adjusting to being used more often as the designated hitter because Adam LaRoche is getting some time at first base. Abreu admitted he prefers playing in the field.

‘‘LaRoche and I have a good relationship and I respect him and his great career [at first], but I don’t want to play as a DH,’’ Abreu said. ‘‘But I don’t control it. Robin has to do what he thinks is best for the team.

‘‘What I don’t like about the DH is if I’m struggling hitting, I can’t help the team with my defense.’’

Even though the Sox dropped three of their first four games after the All-Star break, Abreu said he remains confident they can be better in the second half.

‘‘I cannot guarantee that we are going to be better than the first half, but I can say for sure that we are working hard to be better every day,’’ he said. ‘‘If you keep that work and you keep that routine, you have to get the result that you want because you are doing all that you can do to be better.’’

Abreu is confident he will have a better second half, too.

‘‘In the first half, I just tried to be a little more conservative with my energy because I know now how long the season is,’’ he said. ‘‘But for this second half, I’m just trying to throw all my energy on the field every day.

‘‘I feel much better in comparison to last year [at this time]. I feel that I have better preparation for this year, and I feel very good for now.”

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