Mounting losses haven’t lessened Abreu’s desire to stay with White Sox
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PITTSBURGH – The losses are mounting, and Jose Abreu might hate losing more than anyone in the clubhouse, but, still, the White Sox first baseman wants no part of leaving.
In fact, he might want to stay with the team that introduced him to the major leagues beyond his current contract status more than ever.
“I am a grateful person,’’ Abreu said Wednesday morning before the Sox’ 3-2 loss to the Pirates. “And this organization gave me the opportunity to play in the majors and make my mom’s dream come true. My mom and dad taught me to be grateful. That’s why I want to be here. And I want to stay here my whole career.’’
Abreu, 31, has made that desire repeatedly clear. Whether he fits into the Sox’ future plans – he’s under contract through 2019, and it looks like 2020 might be the first year the rebuild produces competitive fruit – is a subject that bears watching.
Asked if his desire to stay is strong enough to consider an extension under team-friendly terms, Abreu steered clear.
“I don’t think about that now,’’ he said. “Everybody knows I want to stay here. If [an extension] happens, that would be another dream come true. I know this is a business, and the team will make the decision that’s best for the organization. But I want to stay here forever.’’
And not just because he likes it around here.
“Beyond that, I want to stay here because I know the times are going to be good,’’ he said. “The good times are going to come, and I want to be part of that.’’
The bad times continued Wednesday, the Pirates’ fourth win in as many interleague games against the Sox in the last nine days. Left-hander Hector Santiago allowed two runs over five innings, and Leury Garcia and Yolmer Sanchez hit solo homers to keep the Sox in this one until Josh Bell’s RBI pinch single against Joakim Soria in the seventh broke a 2-2 tie.
The Sox’ worst-in-baseball record dropped to 10-29. They have lost nine of their last 10 and 13 of 15. They are ahead of pace for the franchise’s fourth 100-loss season, including the all-time-worst 56-106 record in 1970.
Abreu, who went 1-for-5 to extend his interleague hitting streak to 16, made the final out with a runner on first in the ninth. But he is having a typically productive season, batting .288 with seven homers and 21 RBI. And he has brought an important veteran presence to the clubhouse, especially for young Cuban prospects like Yoan Moncada and, during spring training, Luis Robert.
When it was signed in October 2013, Abreu’s six-year, $68 million contract was the richest for an international free agent, surpassing the six-year, $54 million deal Yu Darvish got with the Texas Rangers in 2012. It still stands as the richest contract in Sox history.
At the time, Abreu was viewed as a one-dimensional player whose defense suggested “designated hitter.’’ With a nudge from manager Rick Renteria as well as his disdain for being a DH, Abreu worked to become an average defender.
“After every season, I evaluate my performance, and in the last two years, I wasn’t comfortable with my defense and those numbers, so I decided I needed to improve,’’ he said. “It became one of my goals, and the results have been there.’’
Abreu credits bench coach Joe McEwing with improving his pre-pitch mental posture.
“For helping me to anticipate,’’ Abreu said. “To always think that every ball hit will be to my side. With that mindset, I’m more ready.
“I’m never satisfied. I always want to be better.’’