Jose Abreu on Yoan Moncada: ‘I know I have to take care of him’

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Yoan Moncada (left) and Jose Abreu during spring training.

The stock of Jose Abreu, who has been on a monthlong hitting tear and received the American League Player of the Week award Tuesday, is holding firm because of the first baseman’s offensive production in the middle of the lineup as well as the valued mentoring dimension he brings to the White Sox’ growing stable of prized Cuban prospects.

Abreu helped recruit 19-year-old outfielder Luis Robert, who signed with the Sox on Saturday, and has been in constant contact with 21-year-old infielder Yoan Moncada — whose locker was next to his during spring training — as well. He knows the challenges the young Cubans face adapting to a new country, and the Sox couldn’t have a more grounded example for Moncada and Robert, who signed for bonuses approaching a combined $60 million.

“We talk around three, four times a week,’’ Abreu said of Moncada. “He’s a very good kid. He’s like a baby. We met when we were playing in Cienfuegos in Cuba, and I know I have to take care of him.’’

Abreu is eager to see Moncada, who broke in with the Red Sox last September, in a Sox uniform. But the front office is biding its time with the switch hitter, who’s hitting .320/.400/.497 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and a hefty 49 strikeouts in 38 games.

“I’m ready for him to be here with me and for us to do things together,’’ Abreu said. “He’s a nice kid, and I’m waiting for the opportunity to finally play together with him.’’

Abreu batted .452 with two homers, three doubles, five RBI and seven runs in seven games to earn the fourth Player of the Week honor of his career. He was batting .346 with 10 homers and 22 RBI over his last 33 games going into Tuesday.

Bunting practice

The Sox were out for early work, but manager Rick Renteria said it had nothing to do with Adam Engel fouling off three strikes attempting to put down a sacrifice in the Sox’ 5-4 victory Monday over the Red Sox or with Kevan Smith striking out bunting with two strikes in Arizona last week.

“It’s just work,’’ said Renteria, a proponent of the sacrifice, even with two strikes. “We haven’t been home very much.’’

Frazier feeling it

Todd Frazier was 2-for-24 over his previous nine games but remains confident he’ll get on a roll.

“Once I get going, and when I get going, because I know it’s going to happen, it’s going to be a lot of fun,’’ he said.

“It’s going to be me attacking the ball, seeing more pitches like I’ve been doing. We’ve been working on a lot of things, and it’s going to click soon.’’

Frazier was batting .181 with six homers and 21 RBI.

This and that

Lefty David Holmberg will make his second consecutive start Sunday, in Detroit, after pitching out of the bullpen.

† James Shields is scheduled for a Class AAA rehab outing Saturday, his first since going on the disabled list with a strained right lat.

† Carlos Rodon, who’s on the disabled list, is on a starting pitcher’s five-day routine as he rehabs in extended spring training. He’s on schedule to throw four or five innings Thursday.

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.




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