Jose Abreu ready ‘right now’ for White Sox season that probably won’t start on time

“I’m excited. The expectations are high with this team, and every Sox fan should be excited because we have a good team.”

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GLENDALE, Ariz. – As luck would have it, just when the White Sox appear to have a team that should be equipped to compete for a postseason appearance after 11 seasons without one, uncertainty about the final weeks of spring training — not to mention Opening Day and beyond — has cast an ominous cloud over an extremely optimistic team.

It’s the season Jose Abreu has been waiting six years for. It’s a season he’s ready for.

“Right now,” he said in English Wednesday, without hesitation.

“I’m ready,” he continued through a translator. “I am ready for Opening Day.”

After six seasons, all with the Sox and with losing records while playing his way to three All-Star games, Abreu looks around the clubhouse filled with added proven veterans and blossoming young talent, and he can’t wait for the real games to begin. Opening Day is two weeks away on the calendar.

“I’m excited. The expectations are high with this team, and every Sox fan should be excited because we have a good team,” Abreu said. “It’s time for us to start competing and to be one of the teams fighting for a playoff spot.”

It appears as though he will have to wait even longer than expected, as MLB owners were on a conference call Thursday discussing plans to suspend spring training and the start of the season. The Sox were scheduled to open March 26 against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Sox aren’t a team that wants a delay. Abreu said he likes “everything” about this team.

“We have good energy, a good vibe, we’re tightly connected and we are united,” he said. “Those are the factors. You can feel that something good is about to happen.”

A common sight in the Sox clubhouse in the last six years was of Abreu, still in uniform, well after a loss, sitting by his locker with a scowl on his face, talking over another defeat with teammates.

“Definitely those years are tough,” he said. “We as human beings, we aren’t born to lose. I wasn’t born to lose. But that was part of the process and those years brought us to this now. It no longer matters what happened in the past.”

On the same day Abreu spoke, the NBA suspended its regular season Wednesday because of the coronavirus crisis and the NCAA said it will showcase its tournament in empty arenas and stadiums because of it. The baseball world waited to hear if MLB would take similar drastic measures.

For the Sox and their fans, it brings to mind the gut punch of 1994 when the season was cut short by a players strike. As luck would have it, the stoppage halted the Sox, who with a 67-46 record held a one-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central.

This Sox team is viewed, on paper, as an above .500 outfit, which would be enough to have them in the playoff picture for most of the season.

The players can’t wait.

“There’s an energy and a buzz here,” bench coach Joe McEwing said. “It’s been amazing to see.”

Abreu sees it that way, too.

“I don’t think our expectations are too high,” he said. “The expectations are right where they have to be because it’s time for us to do it. It’s time for us to start winning. We can’t live life in a negative way. We know we can do it.”

Abreu spoke to a reporter Wednesday outside the clubhouse at Camelback Ranch, in accordance with MLB’s temporary guidelines preventing media access. The conversation occurred hours before the NBA suspended the season.

“We’re doing our part, I know you’re doing your part too,” he said.

If not playing baseball becomes part of doing his share, that will be much more difficult for Abreu to accept.

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