Jose Abreu wants good times to keep rolling with White Sox
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DETROIT — First baseman Jose Abreu is having more fun playing baseball than ever before.
He wants it to continue. For a long time. And with the White Sox.
As he continues to perform at the same high, consistent level he has in each of his four seasons, and while he sets the bar high for individual work ethic by often being the first player at the park each day, Abreu is blossoming as a leader and enjoying himself even as a long, loss-filled season heads into the last two weeks.
He’s all business but has lightened the mood by carrying a trash can through the dugout after home runs and laughing it up with teammates in other ways in the dugout, clubhouse and team bus.
This from a player whose scowl after losses during his first three years was as consistently present as his RBI and multihit games. The difference now is growing stability and peace in Abreu’s life outside of baseball as well as a belief in where the Sox, in their rebuilding phase, are headed.
“Definitely,’’ Abreu said Saturday. “That’s a huge factor. It also has to do with the organization. We’re on a better path. We already know what we’re doing. I’m just blessed to be here, living my dream and being around good people.
“Even though our [60-88] record is like it is right now, the wave of new players here makes it fun. We’re just trying to enjoy it and have fun.’’
Abreu, 30, emphatically repeated before the game against the Tigers that he wants to finish his career on the South Side.
“Yes, God willing, if I can stay healthy, I can be playing a very, very long time,’’ he said. “I want to.’’
And then, in English, as he pointed, with some force, to the floor where he stood, he said, “In Chicago. With the White Sox.’’
As it stands now, Abreu getting traded in the offseason for more prospects, signing an extension with the club or playing out his six-year, $68 million deal in Chicago and signing with another team when it runs out after 2019 are all possibilities.
At about the time the Sox’ wave of prospects could have them in contention, Abreu’s contract could be expiring.
But Abreu wants the relationship with the Sox to last, saying “until this institution says it’s enough” as a way of expressing his heartfelt desire.
“This is my first team in the majors, and I hope to be here for the rest of my career,’’ he said, “because of all the things this team has done for me, how they have treated me. I really have a deep appreciation for this team and front office. And I feel comfortable here; they are like my family even though I left my family in Cuba. This is a family I gained here when I came to the U.S., and I want to be a part of this family forever.’’
A couple of hours later, Abreu, who has 97 RBI, kept on producing. His single against former Sox farmhand Myles Jaye scored Yoan Moncada, the 22-year-old top prospect and fellow Cuban he has taken under his wing, in a four-run second inning, and he had a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Abreu is looking to become the third player to begin his career with four seasons of 25-plus homers and 100-plus RBI. The others are Joe DiMaggio and Albert Pujols.
He’s first in the American League in total bases (320), second in extra-base hits (75) and multihit games (54) and third in slugging (.556). He’s batting .307 with 31 homers after going 1-for-4 in the Sox’ 10-4 victory against the Tigers.
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.