With Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert out for most and possibly all of the season with injuries, a sinking feeling swept through Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday when White Sox star first baseman Jose Abreu had to be helped off the field after a hard collision with Hunter Dozier of the Royals.
Abreu and Dozier were down for several moments, and with Abreu flat on his back holding his head, it had the look of the reigning MVP being lost for an extended time, but the initial assessment for a concussion was negative.
“That was a big hit,” said Sox starter Lucas Giolito, who saw it from 10 feet away. “It was extremely scary in the moment.”
The Sox, a scary team on a big roll, lost 6-2 and had their six-game winning streak snapped by a team that had lost 11 in a row, but they were relieved to know Abreu is day-to-day with a bruised left knee and a bruise and cut on his face.
The 6-3, 235-pounder slammed into the 6-4, 220-pound Dozier — who also left the game — in a football-style collision in the second inning after Dozier popped out to catcher Yasmani Grandal. Dozier swerved to Grandal’s right, but with his head down, he didn’t see Abreu charging hard toward the play while looking to the sky tracking the foul ball. Dozier and Abreu crashed shoulder-to-shoulder and spun to the ground.
Abreu, who hates taking days off under any circumstance — he hadn’t missed a start since Sept. 5, 2019 — told manager Tony La Russa after the game that he wanted to play the second game of the doubleheader.
“He’s bruised and . . . he’s sore, but it could have been worse,” La Russa said.
“Can’t let him go all out there, all guts, in pain. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Dozier left with a bruised quadriceps and sore neck. When Abreu got to his feet, he said he wanted to stay in the game, even though he wobbled and walked off the field with his arms up around the shoulders of Sox trainers.
“It was a huge relief seeing [Abreu] was OK [after the game],” Giolito said. “That was a huge hit.”
Abreu (.240/.336/.457) had a six-game hitting streak (9-for-23, .391) stopped the hard way. He has nine RBI in his last five games and is enjoying his hottest streak of the season. His sacrifice fly against righty Brad Keller in the first inning scored Tim Anderson for the 703rd RBI of his career, tying him with Magglio Ordonez for 10th in Sox history. It was Abreu’s 32nd RBI of the season.
Seeing him leave the game took something out of the Sox, who would dedicate the second game of a split doubleheader to Abreu, La Russa said.
“He’s such a stallion,” La Russa said. “Everybody knows he’s one of our leaders, so everyone’s concerned about him, personally, professionally. Right now, there’s a sense of relief.”
Grandal moved to first base, and Zack Collins took over at catcher, and on Giolito’s first pitch after the injury delay, Michael Taylor homered to right field to erase the lead Abreu provided. Salvador Perez hit a three-run homer — like Taylor’s, it also was helped by a wind blowing toward right field — in the third.
“That same wind was blowing toward the right-field corner for us, too,” La Russa said. “Both those balls, they got enough to carry but are normally outs on the warning track. That’s five runs.”
The Sox got a run back on Andrew Vaughn’s sacrifice fly in the fourth on an unusually quiet offensive day for a team that had scored 44 runs over the previous five games and won 16 of 21.
“It’s been unreal,” Giolito said of the Sox building the best record in baseball going into Friday. “Clubhouse camaraderie, the way we’re playing, coming prepared to win a game every single day, it’s been a lot of fun. We’re really, really clicking on all cylinders. Today was kind of a little hiccup.”
That could have been a whole lot worse.