Jose Abreu has surpassed Jerry Reinsdorf’s expectations

“I had no idea I was getting somebody who was such a leader and such a wonderful person,” Jerry Reinsdorf said of Jose Abreu.

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Jose Abreu with Jerry Reinsdorf in 2018.

Chicago White Sox

Before Jose Abreu was signed to a historic contract in the fall of 2013, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was somewhat hesitant. Then he was assured Abreu was ready to be the team’s every-day first baseman.

“I know that when we looked at him, Kenny [Williams] really liked him,” Reinsdorf said. “The bidding got kind of high. I said to Kenny, ‘What percentage would you put on him being our Opening Day first baseman next year?’ He said 100%. That’s when I went ahead and reached and went higher on the money than I thought.”

Reinsdorf signed Abreu to a six-year, $68 million contract, the richest in Sox history and the biggest at the time for an international free agent, topping the six-year, $56 million deal Yu Darvish signed with the Rangers in 2012. Abreu won American League Rookie of the Year honors and was fourth in MVP voting in 2014, but Reinsdorf’s respect for Abreu gushed after he got to know him.

“I had no idea I was getting somebody who was such a leader and such a wonderful person,” he said.

Abreu was almost 27 when he signed out of Cuba, and some scouts doubted his ability to hit major-league pitching. But Williams was impressed by Abreu’s talent and workmanlike, no-nonsense batting-practice approach, and he convinced Reinsdorf to write a bigger check.

“All I expected was to get a really good player,” said Reinsdorf, who signed Abreu to a three-year, $50 million extension before last season.

Abreu responded by winning the AL MVP award in 2020.

Engel sidelined

Three games into his return from the injured list, Adam Engel felt discomfort in his leg rounding first base Thursday and was held out of the lineup Friday.

Engel has been limited to 36 games because of various injuries and needs at-bats in the last two weeks of the regular season to tune up for the postseason.

Tepera update

Right-hander Ryan Tepera, who cut his finger on a door frame at his apartment, “is coming along good,” manager Tony La Russa said, and could throw a bullpen session Saturday. When the Sox close the season with two games against the Reds and three against the Tigers at home next week, Tepera’s aim is to pitch in two or three games as a prep to the postseason.

“He’s gotten more feel, and it looks to me like he can pitch when we get home,” La Russa said.

Wright serves suspension

Right-hander Mike Wright served the first of a two-game suspension for his actions during the Sox’ game against the Angels on Sept. 16. Wright, who appealed a three-game penalty, hit Shohei Ohtani with a pitch in the ninth inning and was ejected along with La Russa.

A playoff game at the Rate

The Sox played all three wild-card games last season in Oakland but are assured of playing at least one postseason game at home for the first time since 2008. As it stands now, they are the No. 3 seed and would play Games 1 and 2 of the AL Division Series in Houston against the Astros, the current No. 2 seed, on Oct. 7 and 8. Game 3 would be Oct. 10 at Guaranteed Rate Field, as would Game 4, if necessary. Game 5 would shift back to Houston.

The Astros trailed the Rays by three games for the No. 1 seed through Thursday, so a Sox-Rays ALDS also is possible.

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