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White Sox’ Jose Abreu has 31 RBI, and he’s just now finding his groove

Reigning MVP collects his 700th career RBI.

“He’s been working hard, and I’ve been on him hard,” White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino said of Jose Abreu.
“He’s been working hard, and I’ve been on him hard,” White Sox hitting coach Frank Menechino said of Jose Abreu.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

TV cameras captured the warm embrace between hitting coach Frank Menechino and Jose Abreu after the White Sox’ reigning MVP homered Tuesday against the Twins.

If a dugout camera shot paints a thousand words, that one wrote how Abreu is finally, six weeks into the season, finding a groove. And how Menechino has a softer side to go with the one that pushes Abreu hard.

“He wears his emotions on his sleeve,” Menechino said.

“Sometimes he puts me in a bear hug, sometimes he punches me in the back, so I have to hide from him sometimes.”

Abreu, who leads the Sox with seven homers and 31 RBI, tripled in a run for his 700th career RBI and singled home two more in the Sox’ 13-8 victory over the Twins on Wednesday at Guaranteed Rate Field. The Sox, who scored nine runs in each of their three previous games before hitting double digits, were averaging more than five a game but were waiting for Abreu to get hot.

“He’s been working hard, and I’ve been on him hard,” Menechino said. “I’ve been challenging him and getting on him a lot, [saying], ‘Let’s start getting out of this.’ ’’

It looks like Abreu, who is 10-for-27 with two homers, a triple, three doubles and 12 RBI in his last seven games, is out of it. The Sox improved to 11-1 when Abreu drives in a run.

“As much as we butt heads and as much as I get on him and stuff, he appreciates me being in his corner,” Menechino said.

Abreu also appreciates being noticed for his defense, and it was impossible not to in what was perhaps the best glove game of his career. He made a diving stop to his right on a ground ball and a sliding over-the-shoulder catch on a fly ball dropping in short right field and converted a crisp double play in the seventh inning, tagging first and throwing out Mitch Garver at second a moment before Josh Donaldson crossed home to save a run.

Menechino said Abreu is always working, trying to figure out what is amiss when things aren’t clicking offensively. But they seem to have uncovered a mechanical glitch, “some stuff going on with his bat path that he wasn’t feeling,” Menechino said.

“He could see it, but he wasn’t feeling it,” Menechino said. “And now he’s starting to really pay attention to staying on the fastball and reacting to off-speed stuff. He’s starting to relax, and by getting on that fastball, he’s starting to get his mechanics back and timing back.

‘‘It was a big timing issue with him; he was just going back and forth. But he’s starting to relax, and he’s starting to get into the groove.”

Rookie left fielder Andrew Vaughn hit his first home run, reached base his first three times up and scored each time, and catcher Yasmani Grandal homered for the second straight night. Even light-hitting center fielder Billy Hamilton, without a hit since April 6, had a big offensive night with a triple, double and two singles his first four times to the plate, scoring three runs as a result.

Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel exited with two outs in the sixth and a 12-4 lead, but Evan Marshall walked two and gave up a two-run single to Luis Arraez, trimming the Sox’ lead to 12-7.

The Sox improved their American League-best record to 21-13 with their fifth win in a row and 13th in 17 games.

They are 8-1 against left-handed starting pitchers this season and 22-1 since the start of 2020 and go for a series sweep against the defending AL Central champions Thursday afternoon.