White Sox

Fresh Jose Abreu hitting ball with authority for White Sox

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Fresh Jose Abreu hitting ball with authority for White Sox

KANSAS CITY -- Three days of rest has been good for Jose Abreu’s sore left shin.

But the knowledge and experience he gained from playing the entire 2014 season has been even better for the rest of his body. As he enters the final third of the regular season, Abreu is physically thriving. His bat is as good as it has been all season and his power seems to be at its peak whereas he was declining at this time a year ago.

Abreu recently said his physical preparation has him fresh for the final stretch of the 2015 campaign. Robin Ventura believes that has as much to do with Abreu knowing how to better manage himself in his second season. Prior to 2014, Abreu had never played more than 90 games in a professional season.

“He went through it, and he didn’t really understand until he got to the point where he realized 162 games are a lot of games,” Ventura said. “This year going into it, he understands that. He has battled through the finger issue and things like that. But to be physically strong, you also have to be mentally strong, and I think he was prepared for what it actually takes.”

[MORE: Rodon OK with Ventura's call to the 'pen]

Abreu did everything he could from a physical and dietary standpoint after he signed with the White Sox in November 2013 until he arrived at spring training. Not only did he cut weight, Abreu gained muscle. Yet by the time Abreu hit the 90-game mark in 2014, his body was sore everywhere.

Though his power dropped off drastically in the second half, Abreu’s OPS only dipped 24 points to .948 as his walk to strikeout improved. Only seven of Abreu’s 36 homers in 2014 came after the All-Star break.

This season, Abreu has five homers after the All-Star break and all have come within the last 15 games. Abreu --- who is hitting .364/.453/.709 with five homers and 17 RBIs in his last 64 plate appearances --- has 55 more games on the schedule after Friday’s opener against the Kansas City Royals.

“The difference has been huge,” Abreu said through an interpreter last month. “Last year, I wasn’t prepared to keep my performance during the 162 games. I learned from my experience, and this offseason I worked hard and I tried to add some work to try to improve my physical level and to keep my level during the whole season, to keep my body fresh. Yes, that is why I am feeling really good and am feeling in better shape than last year. This is an experience you have and you have to learn from it.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Last year’s experience has also given Abreu better knowledge of how pitchers work; he keeps copious notes on each pitcher in a diary. Abreu said his recent success has come after he made adjustments in his swing at the All-Star break. The result has been a ton of hard contact.

“During the break I was watching some videos and some things I wasn’t doing very well,” Abreu said. “I’ve been able to correct that and to hit to the opposite field and it’s something I used to do and I feel good. I have to thank God for the results I’ve had since the All-Star break.”

Aside from a sore finger and a few nagging issues, Abreu has been healthy all season. But he’s at his healthiest now and Ventura said it’s pretty evident from the swings he has taken.

“He went through a period where his finger wasn’t feeling that good but he was still over there, it just wasn’t quite coming off the bat that hard,” Ventura said. “Now, just the authority it’s coming off his bat is much different. He’s had some homers lately and some that were close, but you like where’s at just because it’s coming off the bat so well.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

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AP

White Sox Talk Podcast: Memories of Old Comiskey Park

For many White Sox fans, Comiskey Park was their introduction to White Sox baseball when they were young. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey, and Chris Kamka share their memories of the old ballpark. Among them: Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl, Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball, Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game, they discuss the final game ever played there and read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

You can listen to the whole thing right here, or in the embedded player below.

8:26 - Chuck talks about seeing Al Cowens charge Ed Farmer on the mound in 1980 creating a bench clearing brawl.

10:11 - Ryan tells the story about catching a Mike Greenwell foul ball.

12:49 - Chuck talks about being there for the 1983 All-Star Game

15:11 - The guys talk about the final game ever played there.

16:44 - The guys read favorite memories sent in by White Sox fans.

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'White Sox to the Letter'

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AP

'White Sox to the Letter'

Inspired by Ogden Nash’s 1949 poem “A Lineup for Yesterday”

 

A is for A.J.

Once punched in the face

If strike three ain’t caught

He’ll steal first base

 

B is for Baines

Who’s known to speak gently

When asked if he’ll homer

He said, “Evidently!”

 

C for Comiskey

The old baseball yard

When it was torn down

I took it quite hard

 

D is for Donkey

I mean Adam Dunn

He’d strike out or walk

Or hit a home run

 

E is for Eloy

He isn’t here yet

Though an All-Star career

Is still a good bet

 

F is for Fisk

The incomparable Pudge

From his perch behind home

Not an inch he would budge

 

G is for Gold

G is for Glove

Aparicio is

Who I’m thinking of

 

H is for Hawk

Unforgettable voice

Stretch! Dadgummit!

And don’t stop now boys!

 

I for Iguchi

Second base man

Won World Series

Returned to Japan

 

J is for Jackson

The legend still grows

A home run or touchdown

Only Bo knows

 

K is for Kopech

Speed, he has plenty

He’ll pile up strikeouts

In two thousand twenty

 

L is for Luke

Old Aches and Pains

Hit .388

That record remains

 

M is for Mark

As in Mister Buehrle

When he takes the mound

The game will end early

 

N is for no-no

Wilson Alvarez, Humber

Two by Mark Buehrle

Too many to number

 

O for Orestes

Miñoso’s real name

Not in the Hall

And that’s a real shame

 

P is for Paulie

He gave it his all

At the championship rally

Gave Jerry the ball

 

Q for Quintana

Kept coming up short

Only because

Of no run support

 

R is for Richie

But please call him Dick

A dangerous man

When he’s swinging the stick

 

S is for shoes

Which were not worn by Joe

In 1919

Please say it ain’t so

 

T is for Thomas

Amazing career

He went to the Hall

And brewed Big Hurt Beer

 

U for Uribe

He played everywhere

When the ball left his bat

Hands waved in the air

 

V is for Veeck

He knew how to sell

Fireworks, promotions

And Eddie Gaedel

 

W is for William

Or Bill; He was Beltin’

So hot was the corner

Third baseman was Melton

 

X is for Fox

At least the last letter

Among second basemen

Nobody was better

 

Y is for Yolmer

He has sneaky power

The master of giving

A Gatorade shower

 

Z is for Zisk

And others I missed

Unable to fit

In my White Sox list