White Sox’ Jose Abreu tests positive for coronavirus but could return in a few days

The 2020 AL MVP is asymptomatic. The White Sox expect him to join team in the “not-too-distant future.”

SHARE White Sox’ Jose Abreu tests positive for coronavirus but could return in a few days
The White Sox’ Jose Abreu has tested positive for coronavirus and will be away from the team’s spring training camp for the next several days.

The White Sox’ Jose Abreu has tested positive for coronavirus and will be away from the team’s spring training camp for the next several days.

Tony Dejak/AP

GLENDALE, Ariz. — White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu will be away from the team’s spring training complex for the next several days due to a positive coronavirus test, general manager Rick Hahn said Wednesday.

Abreu is asymptomatic, and the Sox are optimistic the AL Most Valuable Player will return within a matter of days.

“In compliance with MLB intake protocols, Jose Abreu will remain away from the club for the next several days due to a positive COVID test,” Hahn said. “Jose, who is completely asymptomatic, believes he contracted a mild case of the disease in January, which is reinforced by the presence of COVID antibodies in additional testing.

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“Other than being frustrated, Jose feels great and, like the rest of us, is looking forward to when he rejoins the club in the not-too-distant future.”

That could be as soon as Friday, manager Tony La Russa said, but perhaps Monday. La Russa spoke with Abreu and thought he heard a growl, he said.

“He’s like a lion in a cage,” La Russa said.

“When he walks in the door, it’s going to be a huge moment for the 2021 White Sox. Because the guys can’t wait to see him, and he can’t wait to see them.”

The optimism surrounding Abreu’s return aside, the news was a bit disarming nonetheless because of Abreu’s stature. And it was only the day before when Abreu’s fellow countryman, third baseman Yoan Moncada, talked about playing the effects of the virus. Moncada tested positive during the intake process for summer camp last year and was ready for Opening Day in July, but dealt with fatigue and decreased strength, he said, throughout the season.

On Monday, the first day for full squad workouts at spring training, the Sox said Abreu’s arrival would be delayed due to additional coronavirus antibody testing, and that he was expected to be in camp on Wednesday. That obviously has been pushed back.

“We obviously miss him,” said center fielder Luis Robert, who has been in phone contact with Abreu in recent days. “He’s a big piece of this team, and we miss him. I’ve been talking with him, he’s feeling good and hopefully he can be with us sooner rather than later.”

Abreu led the Sox to their first postseason berth since 2008 last season by leading the majors with 60 RBI and 148 total bases. He batted .317 with 19 home runs and led the AL with 76 hits and a .617 slugging percentage. He played in all 60 games of the pandemic-shortened season.

La Russa noted that, should Abreu return Monday, he would still have an entire month to get ready for the season. The Sox exhibition opener is Sunday against the Brewers.

“Clearly, it’s always about health first,” La Russa said. “You can’t beat health. Just like when it rains, you can’t beat Mother Nature. He’s got to take care of himself on the health front first, and our team also needs him to take care of himself. But the other thing that you look at is, if he can come back Friday, or maybe Monday — Monday is March 1— we’ve got a month. So the good fortune, if there is a good fortune, is it’s at the beginning of the camp. And he’s going to be so anxious to go to work we’re going to have to tie a rope around him, I think.”

Major League Baseball on Friday said that only 13 of the 4,336 coronavirus tests performed during the first wave of spring training intake revealed positive results, including nine players.

“Everyone is doing their part and everyone is wearing their mask, trying to keep distance,” pitcher Aaron Bummer said. “It is a reminder that this thing is still there. We are not in a little bubble. We are not in La La land thinking we are free to do whatever we want. Hopefully everything is OK with [Abreu] and that he doesn’t have symptoms and comes back great.”

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