White Sox notes: Abreu credits Sparks, Frazier passes Ventura
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MINNEAPOLIS – Jose Abreu can’t say enough about the role assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks played in his recent turnaround.
A difference in Abreu’s swing goes back to the White Sox’ last trip to Target Field in late July, when Sparks urged the slugger to work more with his hands and quiet down his arm and body movement in his swing. The result? Abreu, who was having the worst season of his three-year major league career, hit eight home runs, posted a 1.061 OPS and slash line of .362/.414/.648 in August. He went 3-for-5 with three singles and three RBI Friday and has reached base safely in a career-high 30 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors.
“I have to thank the hitting coaches, but especially Sparks because he’s the one who told me I need to work more with my hands more than my arms,’’ Abreu said through translator Billy Russo Friday. “Once he told me that we created a routine to take advantage of my hands. And the results have been there. He saw something, he told me and we started working on it on a daily basis. That’s been the key for me.’’
Abreu hit 36 and 30 homers with 107 and 101 RBI, respectively, in his first two seasons. He’s batting .294 with 20 homers and 79 RBI, and started his September on Thursday with a 423-foot blast to right-center field at Target Field.
Abreu went into August with only 11 homers, and he knows falling short of his expected production played a significant role in the Sox’ offensive woes.
“I don’t think it was frustration, it was more knowing I had to do better,’’ Abreu said. “Once you pass the first half of the season, the only thing you can do is learn from the experience, know what went well and what didn’t and why.
“When I did that review, I understood all that happened in the first half was because I wasn’t using my hands. That’s the knowledge I have now.’’
Assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks (left) with White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson.
Abreu said he wants to carry the changes through September as a springboard into next season. Sparks will be watching closely.
“Every time he sees that I’m overusing body he says ‘Hey, use your hands,’ ’’ Abreu said.
Frazier passes Ventura
Todd Frazier belted his 35th homer, passing Robin Ventura (34 in 1996) for the most by a Sox third baseman. The two have had fun with the “chase” in recent days, and when Frazier extended a handshake to the Sox manager, Ventura remained seated in the dugout and only stared straight ahead.
Frazier and teammates were broken up in laughter.
Rookie shortstop Tim Anderson, who left Thursday’s game with a bruised calf, said he felt better Friday but manager Robin Ventura started Carlos Sanchez at shortstop. Anderson was hit by a Melky Cabrera line drive Thursday.
Anderson had hit safely in 21 of the Sox’ previous 24 games, batting .323 with n .848 OPS during that stretch.
Miguel Gonzalez, on giving up six earned runs on 11 hits over 4 1/3 innings in his rehab start Thursday at AAA Charlotte: “It always happens. Every time we go down and make a rehab start we get hit around, but we’re trying to make our pitches and be around the zone. I didn’t get any 3-2 counts so that was really important. Didn’t walk anyone, went out there and got my work in.’’