White Sox

Abreu, LaRoche help White Sox snap losing streak with extra inning win

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Abreu, LaRoche help White Sox snap losing streak with extra inning win

TORONTO -- They have provided more than their share of disappointment this season but the White Sox aren’t ready to retreat.

After their closer blew his second save attempt in 18 hours, the White Sox bounced back Wednesday afternoon to avoid a three-game sweep with a 5-3 win in 10 innings over the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.

Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche and Gordon Beckham all had key hits shortly after Tuesday night’s hero, Josh Donaldson, tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with another home run off David Robertson. The White Sox won for only the second time in nine games and snapped a four-game losing streak despite Robertson’s second straight blown save.

“We’re not winning like we should, but we’re not giving up,” Beckham said. “I think that’s important. I think that bodes well for the rest of the season. It’s one thing to have a game like last night and come back here and have it happen again and then just die mentally. It’s good to not let down.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The 20-24 White Sox have faced a good deal of adversity but perhaps none has been as daunting as this latest round.

A day after Donaldson sent Toronto to a 10-9 victory by launching a three-run homer off Robertson he did it again. Trailing 3-2, Donaldson ripped a 2-0 Robertson fastball out to left (home run No. 13) to tie the score. Robertson bounced back and retired Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to send it to extras.

Abreu -- who had an earlier two-run double -- started the 10th inning off with a triple to right off reliever Roberto Osuna as outfielder Danny Valencia misplayed the ball, allowing it to carom back toward the infield. LaRoche, who reached base three times, put the White Sox back ahead with a sharp RBI single to right.

Pinch runner Emilio Bonifacio smartly tagged and moved into scoring position on a fly ball out, which was rewarded when Beckham doubled down the right-field line.

Robertson pitched around a single and a walk in the 10th inning to preserve the victory.

“There's some resilience there,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Especially after last night you can just lay down and think it's going to happen all over again and you don't answer the bell. It says a lot about the group.

[MORE: Beck to debut Thursday while Rodon gets the start on Friday]

“We've been knocked around early in the year in different spots of losing games and they've been able to answer it. That's a good sign from these guys.”

The White Sox need much more and quickly.

They’re 20-24 and still have eight games left on this four-city road trip, including two in Baltimore on Thursday. Robertson’s availability after pitching in parts of four innings over two days is up in the air. But Ventura said he knew almost immediately he’d bring Robertson, who has converted nine of 12 saves, back for the 10th once the White Sox pulled ahead. Robertson said he’s grateful for the chance to redeem himself.

“I’m not going to sit there and dwell on the fact,” Robertson said. “You have bad games. This is the big leagues. You’re going to make mistakes. Guys are going to hit home runs. You’re going to have whole runs where you have two or three bad outings in a row. You just have to push those aside and move on to the next thing. It’s over. It’s already done. You can’t change it, so I just look for the positive. If I get another opportunity, I’m going to make the best of it.”

There were plenty of positives in Wednesday’s start by Jeff Samardzija, who didn’t figure into the decision.

Samardzija -- who allowed an unearned run and eight hits -- successfully navigated through seven outstanding innings.

He put a runner in scoring position in four of the seven frames, including the first two, and escaped all but one unscathed.

Jose Reyes doubled to start the game before Samardzija set down the Blue Jays’ 2-3-4 hitters. Samardzija stranded a pair in the second and sixth innings, the latter ending with a strikeout of Ezequiel Carrera. But he didn’t go untouched as, surprise, surprise, Donaldson hit a long sac fly to right in the seventh to cut the White Sox lead to 3-1. Samardzija -- who has a 1.96 ERA in 23 innings in his last three starts -- pitched out of trouble there when Bautista flew out to deep left.

“We needed this one,” Samardzija said. “In baseball you always talk about streaks and when you're going on good streaks you wanna continue you those and ride them out as along as you can. And when it's not going good you wanna put a stop to it as fast as possible because it's a long season but things happen fast.

“We won, that's all that matters.”

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu's got a new beard, but what he really deserves is a contract extension

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday marked the first surprise of White Sox spring training, courtesy of first baseman Jose Abreu.

“This year, I’m going to try to steal more bases,” Abreu said through a translator.

This might have sounded like a joke, but Abreu was completely serious.

On paper, he’s not exactly Rickey Henderson. In 614 career games, Abreu has only six stolen bases. However, the slimmed-down first baseman does have some sneaky speed. His six triples last season ranked third in the American League. So there are some wheels to work with.

“I like the challenge. I think that’s a good challenge for me. I’m ready for it,” Abreu said.

How many steals are we talking about? A reporter asked sarcastically if a 30-30 season is in the offing? Abreu didn’t exactly shoot down the possibility.

“Who knows? When you fill your mind with positive things, maybe you can accomplish them,” Abreu said. “The mind of a human being works in a lot of different ways. If you fill your mind with good things, good things are going to happen.”

The morning began with Abreu walking to the hitting cages with his Cuban compadres Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, who the White Sox signed last summer. He held his first workout on Sunday. At the White Sox hitters camp last month, Moncada took Robert under his wing, showing him the ropes, even telling Ricky Renteria, “I got him.”

But Sunday, Abreu was in charge, holding court with the three of them in the cage. Abreu watched closely as Robert hit off a tee, giving him pointers about his swing.

“I just like to help people,” Abreu said. “When I started to play at 16 in Cuba, I had a lot people who hounded me to get better. At the same point, I want to give back things that I’ve learned and pass that along to other people. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not expecting anything else. I’m just glad to help them and get them better.”

What kind of advice has he passed along to Robert?

“Since I came to this country, I learned quickly three keys to be a success: Be disciplined, work hard and always be on time. If you apply those three keys, I think you’re going to be good. Those are the three keys I’m trying to teach the new kids, the young guys,” Abreu said.

Abreu lost about 10 pounds during the offseason. He said he hopes to learn more English in 2018. He also arrived at spring training sporting a scruffy beard which he grew while he was in Cuba so he “could be incongnito.”

Abreu likes his new look. Moncada thinks he should shave it off.

“If the organization doesn’t say anything, I’m just going to keep it,” Abreu said.

Well, so much for that.

Moments after Abreu spoke with the media, Renteria told reporters that Abreu will have to “clean it up a bit.”

The two will find a compromise. Come to think of it, maybe Abreu and the White Sox should do the same about a contract extension in the near future.

Yes, he’ll be 33 when his contract expires in two years, but there have been no signs of a decline with his performance. Instead, Abreu is only getting better both offensively and defensively.

Heck, now he wants to steal bases, too.

After Renteria, Abreu is the leader of this team. He commands ultimate respect inside the clubhouse. He’s become another coach to Moncada, Robert and others. He’s a huge brick in the present and too big of an influence and cornerstone to not have around in the future.

“I hope to play my entire career in the majors with the White Sox,” Abreu said Sunday. “But I can’t control that.”

At some point, a decision will have to be made whether to keep Abreu or trade him. In the meantime, ask yourself this question: What will bring more value to the White Sox, getting a high-end prospect or two in return not knowing if they’ll ever succeed in the majors? Or keeping your best player, the heart and soul of your team, allowing him to show your future stars the way while they’re developing in the major leagues?

Seems like an easy decision to me.

Jose Abreu has already begun mentoring Luis Robert

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USA TODAY

Jose Abreu has already begun mentoring Luis Robert

As the White Sox have added young Cuban stars in the making in Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert, Jose Abreu's long-term role on the team has shifted.

The 31-year-old first baseman has been looked at as something of a mentor for the two young Cubans. He seems to be delivering on that so far.

Abreu picked up Moncada from the airport when he first was called up to the White Sox last July. Now he's helping Robert in the batting cage.

The Cuban trio is expected to play a big part of the White Sox future in the coming years. 

Robert has already stated his goal of making it to the majors this year to join Abreu and Moncada, but that may be an overly ambitious goal. Either way, plenty of eyes will be on him throughout 2018 as he marches towards the White Sox roster and his Cuban teammates.