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Sports Saturday

Jose Abreu is White Sox’ ‘blue-collar superstar’

The trade deadline came and went. First baseman Jose Abreu is still here. The White Sox’ clubhouse — and coaching staff — is relieved and happy about that.

Jose Abreu rounds the bases after hitting a go-ahead home run against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. (Getty Images)

The trade deadline came and went.

First baseman Jose Abreu is still here.

The White Sox clubhouse, and coaching staff, is relieved.

And hoping the guy they call “Pito” is still here beyond the end of the season, when the six-year contract he signed to leave Cuba expires.

A leader by example, Abreu is one of the first players to arrive for work every day. When he took his first day off Sunday – reluctantly – he ran up and down steps on the main concourse at Guaranteed Rate Field two hours before the game, on a warm, muggy day.

This is why Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson calls Abreu “a blue collar superstar.”

Through Thursday, Abreu, 32, was fighting a recent slump but having another Abreu-type season with 22 homers and a team-high 74 RBI. Two non-baseball health issues last season might prevent him from having at least 25 homers and 100 RBI through his six seasons.

“The outsider looking in will say he’s a good player because of the numbers he has accomplished,” Steverson said. “But you have to watch him every day to really respect his game. I’m not saying he’s a [Mike] Trout, but he’s up there with the elite and he just steadily does his job, puts up his homers and RBI and keeps his batting average in the above-average range. He’s not a showman but he gets the job done.”

Abreu has voiced his desire to stay with the team – despite playing on nothing but losing teams on the South Side – at every opportunity.

“He’s been to his [three] All-Star games but he has said it to me so many times: He wants to win with the White Sox, his first organization,” Steverson said.

Asked to describe Abreu’s swing in one word, Steverson chooses “efficient.”

“Uses the whole field,” he said. “He’s not one dimensional.”

In the age of defensive shifting, most teams are forced to play their second baseman on the right side of second base against Abreu.

“That’s respect about how you can handle the bat,” Steverson said. “How they play you can be the greatest show of respect for you, in my opinion. They know he can take them out of the ballpark to left, center or right and also shoot one through the four-hole for an RBI. That shows you they think you’re a good hitter.”

Don’t the White Sox know it.