CLEVELAND – Yes, Jose Abreu is tired of losing. It’s all the Cuban slugger knows as a baseball player in the United States as he wraps up his third season with the White Sox.
Abreu doesn’t have to speak the English language to convey his disdain for being on the wrong side of a final score. It’s written all over his face after a game.
“In this sport nobody likes to lose,’’ Abreu said.
But some hate it more than others, and it seems Abreu is in that group. And with three years left on his contract, he’s holding fast to the hope it won’t always be this way on the South Side.
“I experienced this in Cuba with Cianfeugos,’’ Abreu said through translator Billy Russo. “We were a losing team the first two or three years but at the end we were one of the best teams and won several championships. That’s part of the process and I hope that will be the process here, too.
“Sooner rather than later and winning a lot.’’
Abreu signed the biggest contract in club history, for six years and $68 million, before the 2014 season, then made the All-Star team, finished third in AL Most Valuable Player award voting and easily won Rookie of the Year honors by batting .317 with 36 homers and 117 RBI.
He followed with .290, 30 and 101 last season and is at .297, 25 and 96 this season thanks to a raucous August and September, although the Sox (72-81) lost their sixth straight game Friday, a 10-4 defeat against the Cleveland Indians Friday and will likely finish fourth again, the same place they finished in Abreu’s first two seasons.
Abreu expressed his frustration after the Sox lost three of four games in Kansas City on Monday, their latest beat-down from an AL Central team. He created a bit of a stir questioning the team’s desire, but he made it pretty clear Friday he wants to carry on with the Sox, citing their support for him and knowing, as he experienced in Cuba, winning is even sweeter after you’ve been down.
“That’s a beautiful thing when that transition takes place,’’ he said. “When it clicks, it’s beautiful.’’
But will it? While a managerial change is a distinct possibility – Robin Ventura’s contract is up after the season and the Sox haven’t won under his watch since 2012 — the same front office which has overseen one playoff series and one playoff victory since the 2005 World Series championship season will be in place this off-season.
“I don’t know their plans but I’m very sure they’ll do their best to compete next year,’’ Abreu said. “I think everybody in the front office is doing their best to put a good team on the field next season.’’
Abreu hopes their best is good enough because he wants to be part of the Sox future.
“I’m going to forever be grateful to this organization because of everything they’ve done for me,’’ he said. “I would like to play my whole career in the U.S., with this team, because it’s like my family. They were the ones who gave me the opportunity, they were the ones who helped me through the whole process to come here and to become a U.S. resident. They have been very supportive of me, and my family, too. I want to be with this team, to be an important part of this team and to win a championship with this team.’’
Abreu wants to spread his wings as a teammate and leader, so he’ll continue to work on his English, which hasn’t come as easy for him as he’d like.
“I don’t want to say I want to learn the whole language, but just to learn a little more at a time,’’ he said.