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White Sox being extra-cautious with Jose Abreu

Jose Abreu is batting .214 with two homers this spring. (For Sun-Times/John Antonoff)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — White Sox manager Rick Renteria is being cautious with star first baseman Jose Abreu, and he likely won’t play him until the team’s last Cactus League game in Arizona Sunday. And if he does get in the game, it might be for only one at-bat.

Abreu, who left the Sox’ game against the Rangers Tuesday with a tight left hamstring, has been saying since the day after the issue is minor. But he hasn’t played since even though he said he was ready to play today. Renteria agreed, but sees no point in taking any chances six days before opening day.

“Possibly Sunday, give him an at-bat,” Renteria said.

“My abundance of caution” is how Renteria explained his thinking.

“I want to start the season with Pito Abreu, arguably one of the best hitters in the major leagues,” Renteria said. “He’s ready to go, I’m not going to deny it. He could play [Saturday] and probably the next day.”

Through translator Billy Russo, Abreu said he felt good and that he hit in the cage Friday and was planning to “take a full workout.”

He sure seemed fine, playfully standing behind Yolmer Sanchez in the clubhouse and lifting him off his feet. Abreu was in good spirits, as he has been since he’s been sidelined. With only hair left on his chin, he said he shaved the rest of his beard because “my mom said it was ugly.”

“I understand the situation and what they are trying to do,” Abreu said of sitting out. “They are good bosses. I also know my role, and I want to play, too.”

Engel back in lineup

Center fielder Adam Engel, scratched the previous days due to stiff neck, was back in the lineup Friday and doubled into the left-field corner his first time up. Engel slept on his neck “incorrectly,” according to Renteria.

“He’s stiff. He was in there [trainer’s room] working on it, got a heat pack,” Renteria said.

“I don’t anticipate it being a long-term thing. It’s a day to day situation. Once you get a spasm out you’re OK and you keep going.”