OAKLAND, Calif. — Count Adam Eaton and Jose Abreu as two of the biggest benefactors of the White Sox veteran cast.
The additions of Todd Frazier, Jimmy Rollins, Alex Avila, Dioner Navarro and Austin Jackson have put the two stars in a position where they don’t have to do as much heavy lifting.
Look to Tuesday’s victory over the Oakland A’s as Exhibit A. Despite several disappointing moments, the White Sox emerged victorious as Frazier and Rollins both put them ahead with two big home runs.
Afterward, Frazier said he appreciates how the team’s players pick each other up. Abreu said Tuesday that attitude and belief has been present in the dugout all spring and makes a big difference.
“Completely,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “When you have guys like Frazier, Rollins, Navarro with that kind of experience, you feel more confidence. It doesn’t matter how the game goes because you know you’re always going to have a chance to produce some runs and to win the game and that makes you feel very confident.”
Eaton has felt a different kind of confidence this season since before he set foot in the clubhouse after he rebounded from an abysmal start last season. Even though failure was everywhere, the leadoff man took his and the team’s struggles very personally and said the team’s performance relied heavily upon him getting on base and setting the table.
But he learned how to survive after not driving in a run until his 109th plate appearance and put up very respectable numbers.
As if that performance wasn’t enough, Eaton said his new teammates have constantly reminded him not to do too much early in the season. Through two games, Eaton has five hits in nine plate appearances. He didn’t get his fifth hit in 2015 until his 36th plate appearance. He also notched his first RBI in his second plate appearance.
“Those guys are in my ear all the time letting me know, like ‘Hey, just do the thing you do and go out and play the game and let it take care of itself,’ ” Eaton said. “Just go out and play.
“It’s been the same approach, nothing has changed. It’s just the first two games balls are bouncing my way and hopefully can continue to play consistent baseball.”
Something has changed though.
Manager Robin Ventura said his roster not only offers more experience, but he has players who want to teach the younger guys how to handle the ups and downs. Ventura said the veterans have provided examples of how to stay in the game, at-bats, etc.
But they offer more than examples.
“The big part is they are good guys to learn from,” Ventura said. “They are willing to take the time and talk baseball. These guys get along fairly well, so I think that’s part of it, the trust factor being able to share that.”
Moments like the fifth inning also give Abreu a sense of confidence he isn’t the only run producer. He doesn’t have to expand his strike zone to break the team out of its slump. Abreu struck out against Chris Bassitt on a curveball with two on base. Frazier fell behind 0-2 in the count before he smacked a curveball for a three-run homer.
“I couldn’t do the job and they did it and that’s good,” Abreu said. “It’s huge support for us, especially for me. Having (Frazier) behind is good. He’s a very good hitter. Everybody knows about him.
“We can be a very good force in the lineup.”