Jose Abreu was the designated hitter for the second straight night Wednesday, which is not the slugger’s favorite thing. But manager Robin Ventura talked about the value in it, and suggested Abreu might be softening his stance on wanting to play first base all the time.
Designated hitter Justin Morneau miss his second straight game because of a stiff neck, opening the door for the switch. Todd Frazier played first and Carlos Sanchez played third in the White Sox’ 6-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians.
“He’s starting to realize what the DH can do for you, giving you a break and refreshing you in a way that you don’t have to be on your feet for nine innings,’’ Ventura said. “He’s a big guy and this is the most he’s every played first base for this long.’’
Abreu has been outspoken about his preference for playing first even though he’s not a strong defender.
“Initially he didn’t want to do it [DH] because of the perception about it,’’ Ventura said. “Now he’s starting to understand what it means to DH and the reasoning for maybe giving him that day instead of having him play first.
“He’s starting to understand [the value of being off his feet] a little more. Right now I think he’s tired but you can see the end coming up pretty quick and he’s driving for some numbers. I think that’s important.’’
Abreu (.297, 23 homers, 94 RBI) was hitting .409 with five home runs, 21 RBI and a 1.095 OPS over his last 15 games. After the worst half of his career, he is bearing down on another 100 RBI season and flirting with a .300 average.
Abreu had reached base safely in 37 of his last 39 games since Aug. 2 before going 0-for-4 Wednesday.
Narvaez takes the fifth
With Morneau out of the lineup, left-handed hitting catcher Omar Narvaez (.279 average, .390 on-base) batted fifth in Morneau’s spot, a compliment to how the rookie handled the bat in his first 82 plate appearances.
“He’s had good enough at-bats to be able to earn that,’’ Ventura said. “It starts becoming more legit the longer you do it. Even when he gets out it just seems like he’s on time for every at-bat and it just looks better.’’
Narvaez batted fifth between Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier in part because he bats left-handed.
“It’s a combination of that of being able to have a little (left-handed) protection but he’s also been able to put the bat on the ball as well,’’ Ventura said.
Left-hander Carlos Rodon was KO’d by Coco Crisp’s three-run homer in the sixth inning, and he left with a 6-1 deficit after allowing nine hits and two walks in his worst start since he allowed six runs on 12 hits at Texas on May 12.
Rodon had been on a roll with a 5-0 record and 1.85 ERA over his last seven starts. The five-game win streak was the best of his career, which began last season.
Rodon started with three scoreless innings and looked sharp until he walked Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana with one out before Jose Ramirez tripled.
“Losing is never great,” Rodon said. “This one is going to stick with me for a while until I face them again. I’m looking forward to that chance for sure.”
Putnam on the mend
Right-hander Zach Putnam, who had season ending surgery to remove a bone fragment in his right elbow, was a visitor in the Sox clubhouse. Putnam said he is “probably ahead of where I should be” in the recovery.
“The doctors said I’m looking good. I’m feeling good.’’
This and that
The Sox (70-75) fell to 5-10 against the Indians.
*Adam Eaton hit the 28th triple of his three-year Sox career, including his ninth this season, and extended his hitting streak to seven games.
*Tyler Saladino (1-for-3) is 12-for-24 with three doubles over his last seven games.