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Red-hot White Sox Jose Abreu thriving in school of hard knocks

Jose Abreu hits his second double of the game in the 4th inning against the Kansas City Royals
at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 26, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE — White Sox slugger Jose Abreu is on a tear, getting hits in bunches and hitting the ball with considerable force.

‘‘When you see it working the way it is working right now, it’s pretty impressive,’’ manager Rick Renteria said of Abreu.

After hitting .157 with no home runs, three doubles, five RBI, three runs scored and a .380 OPS in his first 13 games, Abreu was batting .414 with five homers, four doubles, 10 RBI, 12 runs scored and a 1.271 OPS in his last 15 games before going 0-for-3 with a walk Sunday against the Orioles.

Exit velocity is all the rage these days, and it puts a number on just how hard Abreu is hitting the ball. His homer off the left-field foul pole 333 feet from home plate in the Sox’ 6-5 loss Saturday to the Orioles traveled at 112 mph.

‘‘I blinked, and it was out,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘I saw the swing, I saw the flight of the ball, I turned and it was gone.’’

Abreu homered on a line drive to center field Thursday against the Royals. That one had an exit velocity of 113 mph.

‘‘It’s a combination of things,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘It’s him really feeling in sync, in tune with his swing, feeling in sync with recognizing pitches and having a skill set to put the bat on the baseball. It’s all in tune.’’

Even Abreu’s outs have been hit hard.

‘‘When athletes talk about being in the zone, you become very instinctual, very reactionary,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘That’s a combination of all his experiences and the work he puts into it.

‘‘But right now, he seems to be in a really good place. We’re really happy he’s in that spot. We hope he can really cling to it.’’

Rusty Robertson

Scouts from contending teams, such as the Nationals, who need bullpen help and want to see White Sox closer David Robertson pitch were out of luck last week.

Robertson didn’t pitch between April 29, when he worked two innings in the Sox’ 6-4, 10-inning victory against the Tigers, and Sunday, when he worked a scoreless eighth inning in their 4-0 loss to the Orioles.

‘‘That’s just the way the game goes,’’ Robertson said Sunday. ‘‘I’ve had stretches where I’ve sat eight or nine days. It just happens. Ideally, I’d like to throw three or four times a week because then we’re getting a chance to win ballgames. That’s the way I look at it.

‘‘Obviously, it’s great when we score more runs and I’m not needed. But for me, I like to get in as much as I can. You sit around a lot out there. I want to play.’’

Robertson used his curve more than usual — 40 percent of the time in April, compared with 25 percent in April 2016 — to throw a curve at hitters.

‘‘Early in the year, I feel like hitters don’t have a read on me yet; they’re not sure,’’ Robertson said. ‘‘They’ve seen me a lot and know I throw a lot of fastballs in, and I thought I’d come in this year and try to throw more breaking balls for strikes. Make them respect the fact I can do that.’’

Robertson is 5-for-6 in save chances with a 2.53 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 10⅔ innings. He is in the third year of a four-year,

$46 million contract.

This and that

Shortstop Tim Anderson was out of the lineup because of the death of someone close to him, Renteria said.

• Minor-league hitter of the month Yoan Moncada hit his sixth homer, doubled and singled to raise his average to .352 for

Class AAA Charlotte.

Minor-league pitcher of the month Dane Dunning, who had dominated at low-Class A Kannapolis, gave up three earned runs, five hits and three walks in 2⅔ innings for high-Class A Winston-Salem. He struck out six.

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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