CINCINNATI — First baseman Jose Abreu wasn’t in the White Sox’ starting lineup against the Reds on Tuesday night, but he didn’t sit without a fight. Aching ankle or not, he wanted to play — and eventually did when the Sox called on him to pinch hit in the 11th inning. (He grounded out.)
“He fights me more than any player I’ve ever had,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. “It’s a good thing for him [and] a bad thing for me because I really have to stand my ground. I’ve got to be the voice of reason.”
Abreu fouled a pitch off his left ankle in the sixth inning Monday in a loss to the Reds, giving himself a nasty bruise. He hits his share of fouls off below the knee — and has had more than his share of late.
“He actually is doing good,” Renteria said. “X-ray was negative. He has hit the ball off that shin [and] ankle a couple times, so it was a manager’s decision to give [him] a break even though he fought me tooth and nail to keep him in the lineup.
“I need that fluid to get out of that [ankle] and not be something that lingers. . . . I don’t want to force him to move around so much that it continues to swell.’’
Abreu, who played 145, 154, 159 and 156 games during his first four seasons in the majors, has played in 82 of the Sox’ 84 games this year. He says he gets paid too much to not play and recently shared that his mother calls him when he doesn’t play, asking him why.
Approaching Thursday’s All-Star Game voting deadline, Abreu is the lead vote-getter among American League first basemen.
Madrigal in the fold
The Sox are expected to make the signing of Oregon State middle infielder Nick Madrigal, the No. 4 overall draft pick, official any day now. That will make 14th-rounder Davis Martin the only draftee of note not signed.
Madrigal had to wait until he was done helping Oregon State win the College World Series before agreeing to the fourth pick slot value of $6,411,400, a source confirmed. Oklahoma outfielder Steele Walker, the Sox’ second-round pick, has been assigned to the Arizona Summer League, and Madrigal was expected to be there Tuesday, although neither player will be there long. Madrigal, a 5-7, 165-pounder who profiles as a leadoff hitter, could be targeted for high-Class A Winston-Salem.
Talk to the boss
Struggling reliever Bruce Rondon spoke with Renteria and said he was ready to pitch in any situation. Entering Tuesday, Rondon had allowed 15 runs, 14 hits and nine walks over four innings in his previous seven appearances and seemed to be in jeopardy of pitching himself off the team, but he pitched a scoreless seventh inning Tuesday.
“He is not lacking confidence,” Renteria said. “It is about execution.”
Rondon was trending toward being able to handle late-inning situations before his recent bad stretch. Renteria instead used Chris Volstad (four runs allowed) in the eighth inning of Monday’s loss, but Rondon seemed headed toward another high-leverage situation.
“I am inclined to give him an opportunity whether it is high- or low-leverage,’’ Renteria said.
Garcia’s sore hammy lingers, streak reaches 13
Renteria said right fielder Avisail Garcia is playing through right he strained in April putting him on the disabled list.
Garcia extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 Tuesday with a single in the fourth against Reds righty Anthony DeSclafini. He had four homers two doubles, two triples and eight RBI during the streak through Monday, homering in four of his last seven games.
“He’s grinding through this and he’s playing in the heat, staying hydrated, he gets treated, he gets ice , he gets stretched,” Renteria said. “He does everything that he can to make sure he’s capable of playing.”
Renteria demands full effort on running out of the box but has asked Garcia to “pull back on the reins a little bit when you’re coming out of the box. I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”
“He’s a big man so once he gets going he feels pretty good when he’s moving. It’s the starts and stops, like anything. I think he can manage it. He’s obviously playing through it.”