HOUSTON — Jose Abreu admits to having a very limited knowledge of White Sox history, but he knows the franchise’s last World Series was in 2005. He didn’t know it happened in the same ballpark the Sox are playing a four-game series in this week.
For all Abreu has done, and for the way he has gone about doing it, the Sox’ Cuban first baseman deserves a mulligan for not acing a quiz on Sox history. He’s certainly not alone in not knowing who Cass Michaels is, either, but he has more in common with Michaels, who was a two-time All-Star like Abreu. Michaels played on seven consecutive losing Sox teams from 1944-50, the last Sox player to take part in such a losing skid.
It’s a mean street Abreu wants no part of. If the Sox have a losing record for the seventh consecutive season, Abreu will have played on losing teams in each of the six years on his contract which expires after this season. He’ll threaten to match Michaels for a seventh if the Sox extend his deal beyond this season.
In short, losing stinks. But Abreu doesn’t.
“It is difficult,” he said through translator Billy Russo. “But thanks to the people I’m surrounded by, including my teammates, we’ve been able to get over those situations and keep moving forward. You keep a positive mindset.”
Abreu tarnished a page of baseball history in the Sox’ 5-1 loss to the Astros on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park, breaking up Justin Verlander’s bid for a third career no-hitter with a home run to center field with one out in the seventh inning. If anyone was going to do it against Verlander, who struck out 12 and walked one in eight innings, it was Abreu. He entered with a .366 career average and five homers against the 36-year-old who improved to 8-1.
The loss dropped the Sox to 21-26, an area record-wise Abreu has become all too familiar with. But he wants to stay with the Sox for the rest of his career, an issue that will be addressed by the team at the end of the season, if not sooner. It is believed the rebuilding Sox want Abreu to be part of the team if and when they start winning.
“He’s been here throughout the early stages of this rebuild and certainly very likely he’ll be here in the more enjoyable stages that lie ahead of us,” general manager Rick Hahn said last week.
The enjoyable stages are coming, said Abreu, 32. He more than hopes so.
“I truly believe that,” he said.
“Everyone here approaches every game with that ultimate goal in mind. Hopefully before I retire we accomplish that here.”
Shortstop Tim Anderson, a 25-year-old Sox building block, is almost insistent that Abreu will stay.
“I know he’s coming back. He has to be back,” Anderson said. “He wants to be here. You can tell he wants to be here. I don’t want to see him nowhere else. Great player, great person, great teammate.”
Anderson, the AL player of the month in April, had a .329 average with eight homers entering the game. He credits some of his success to listening to Abreu.
“I respect him for the way he carries himself and goes about his business,” Anderson said. “He’s the definition of a great player and great big-league teammate. Ask him a question about hitting, what to do on certain pitches, he knows his stuff, he’ll give you an answer. I’ve been talking to him a lot this year about hitting.’’
Anderson looked from his locker across the visitors clubhouse to where Abreu sits, often talking hitting with teammates. He said he can’t imagine Abreu not being here.
“That’s up to the people up top,” Anderson said. “But I know he’s definitely a part of the plan. He has to be.”