Jose Abreu is in the middle of a lot of Sox storylines.
His name has been thrown about in trade speculation, which makes sense for a team in the midst of a rebuilding project. He’s also one of the team’s hottest hitters, enjoying one of the best stretches of his career. And on Saturday the Sox formally signed Luis Robert, a fellow Cuban whose addition clearly means a lot to Abreu.
“I was very excited to have him here, and I’m very happy because he’s signing with the team,” Abreu said Sunday through a translator before the Sox beat the Tigers 7-3. “He’s a very good player. I just told him that he has to keep working hard and keep doing the things to get here as soon as he can. He’s a nice guy.”
Robert might be a nice guy, but he doesn’t have much experience and is unfamiliar with American baseball. Enter Abreu, who will act as a mentor, which he already is for Yoan Moncada.
“I’m excited to have that opportunity. That’s something that I like to do,” Abreu said. “I like to advise the guys and tell them what to do for their best like I am doing with Moncada. I’m just waiting for that opportunity to happen with
Just 19, Robert will spend time in the minors, a luxury Abreu didn’t have. And Abreu sees the value in the Sox’ patient approach with their latest prized asset.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, to come here straight to play in the majors, because this is a very high level and a tough one to play,” Abreu said. “The best for him is the decision that he’s making for him, to have some games in the minors and let him develop there.”
But that development time could mean Abreu and Robert never will be teammates in Chicago.
Abreu, 30, has two years left on his contract after this season, and he could be attractive to teams this summer looking to add an impactful right-handed bat to the middle of their lineup. Asked Sunday if he wanted to discuss a long-term deal with the Sox, Abreu said, “We are thinking just about this year, just to help this team to win this year,” but he made it clear he wouldn’t mind staying here.
“What’s in the future is going to be in the future,” Abreu said. “Of course, I would like to be a White Sox forever. But that’s something that I can’t control.”
If Abreu gets what he wants, he will be a key part of the team on and off the field. Manager Rick Renteria sees the value in having him stay.
“The perspective [he brings], maybe he can enlighten some younger players in terms of what he has gone through in his life,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘Sometimes we’ve talked about how it is to be in the big leagues [and] it’s a surreal existence. It’s beyond compare to -anything you might imagine. I imagine all professional sports go the same way.”
On the field, Abreu stayed hot Sunday. He had two hits and extended his hitting streak to 10 games, batting .444 over that span. He said he has tried to control his feet and hands, because they’re key parts of his swing process.
“Once you have control over the precision and the movement of your feet and hands, then you can be able to use the whole field,” Abreu said.
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