GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Abreu is feeling good.
He’s feeling good about new manager Tony La Russa, and he’s just, well, feeling good after a positive coronavirus test (he was asymptomatic) delayed his start to spring training by a few days.
“I’m feeling good!” Abreu yelled in English with a big smile during a Zoom call Monday.
“It has been a very good spring training,” Abreu said through translator Billy Russo. “I feel good right now.”
Before wrapping up his interview, almost unsolicited, Abreu sang La Russa’s praises.
“I have to tell you something remarkable that I was talking with my wife about a few days ago,” Abreu said. “This year is my eighth year coming to spring training and being with the White Sox. This is the first year that I’ve been feeling really good and comfortable. I think it is because the plan that Tony has. He knows the time that we as a player need to spend on the field. He knows when you need to rest. He knows how to take control of how you measure your work. The atmosphere that he has created along with the coaches has been outstanding.”
Abreu always spoke highly and respectfully of Rick Renteria, so to read into it as a slight against his former manager would be misguided. But there’s no doubt he likes the way La Russa and his staff are running camp, calling it “incredible.”
“We’re putting special emphasis on the little things,” Abreu said. “We’re working on specific areas of the game that we need to in order to win games and to be a complete team. It has been remarkable, and I feel really happy because of that, and I feel really happy to have him and be part of this team at this moment.”
Reynaldo Lopez not only lost the No. 5 starter job to Carlos Rodon — in a blowout — he won’t even get a chance to open the season in the bullpen after the Sox optioned the right-hander to their alternate training site.
Lopez, the Sox’ best starter in 2018, has struggled in the last two seasons and dealt with a sore shoulder last summer. He posted a 9.00 ERA and 1.82 WHIP over four outings and 11 innings. His velocity was down slightly, as well.
Outfielder Luis Gonzalez also was optioned to the training site, and right-handers Tayron Guerrero, Alex McRae and Connor Sadzeck and infielder Marco Hernandez were reassigned to the club’s minicamp. The Sox have 36 players remaining in camp.
Engel out 2-4 weeks
Adam Engel will be out two to four weeks with a strained right hamstring, but the outfielder is “pretty optimistic about a quick recovery.” He said he felt better two days after the injury occurred in center field in a game against the Indians on Saturday.
It’s the first hamstring issue Engel has dealt with.
“At the end of the day, whatever my body is telling us is what we’re going to listen to,” Engel said.
Sox 7, Giants 2
Leading off — and by example
Tim Anderson led off the first inning with his first homer of the spring, then lined an RBI double to left in the second. Before the game, manager Tony La Russa noted Anderson’s leadership demonstrated in his morning work on the back fields.
“I know you can’t describe the importance of your best player setting the best example,” La Russa said. “And he does that every day.”
Featuring a possible Opening Day lineup, the Sox (7-10-5) scored four in the first as Eloy Jimenez hit his second homer. Jimenez also blooped a double, and right fielder Adam Eaton had two doubles and made a sliding, backhand catch. The Sox banged out 14 hits.
Giolito not great but effective
Lucas Giolito (1.56 ERA) allowed two hits in 4 ²⁄³ scoreless innings, striking out four and walking three. The two hits came from the last two batters he faced. Giolito threw 85 pitches, 45 for strikes, and will have one more Cactus League start before Opening Day on April 1.
“A grinder day,” Giolito said, upset with the number of walks. “But I made good pitches when I had to.”
Giolito, who threw most of his games to James McCann last season, said he was “very much in sync on the game plan” with Yasmani Grandal.
“It was the execution sometimes, and that’s on me,” he said.
Pen still mighty
Michael Kopech stranded two runners inherited from Giolito, getting the third out of the fifth, then gave up two soft hits in the sixth. But he stranded two more in scoring position by getting a called strikeout on a 99-mph heater past Jason Krizan.
Aaron Bummer’s slider and sinker looked very sharp in a perfect seventh, with two groundouts and a strikeout.
Sox at Cubs, 3:05 p.m. Tuesday, Mesa, Marquee, Dallas Keuchel vs. Jake Arrieta.