White Sox

Heading to the World Series, Addison Reed is thriving after return from minors

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Heading to the World Series, Addison Reed is thriving after return from minors

Five months ago, Addison Reed was en route to the minors and searching for answers. Next week, he’s headed to the World Series with the New York Mets.

Whereas he had no idea where the ball was going when the Arizona Diamondbacks optioned him to Triple-A on June 22, the former White Sox closer has thrived since he joined his new team on Sept. 1.

Reed has taken ownership of the seventh inning and posted a 1.45 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings with the Mets. He credits his turnaround to a positive frame of mind after he learned he was headed for Reno.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Reed said. “I could have been pissed off and been bitter at Arizona and just went down there and not had fun and done whatever. I just had fun with it. This game is crazy. You never know what’s going to happen. I was in Triple-A only two-and-a-half to three months ago and now we’re going to the World Series.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Reed had a pretty good idea he might be headed to the minors. He lost his job as the Diamondbacks’ closer in May and then came the low point. On June 20, Reed, who had given up 31 hits and 11 walks in 24 1/3 innings, only recorded two outs as he allowed four runs, including an RBI triple to opposing pitcher Tyson Ross.

“That’s about how things were going at the time,” Reed said. “I was kind of everywhere. I had no idea where the ball was going.”

The Diamondbacks were set to begin a road trip in Denver two days later. But the right-hander wasn’t meant to join his teammates.

“They asked if I’d come to the field early one day before we left on a road trip and that’s never happened,” Reed said. “Nobody is going to call you to ask you to come early for a road trip to hang out and have coffee.

“I was disappointed but there was no part of me that disagreed with their decision. I was throwing the ball terribly. It was probably the worst I’ve thrown the ball since I was in the big leagues.”

Reed made one bigger mechanical adjustment in the minors and mostly focused on fastball command. Whereas the San Diego State product had always used a high leg kick in his delivery, the Diamondbacks worked with him on a slide step in June and it produced results -- for a time. But once he reached Reno, Reed and the club compromised.  

“We kind of met in the middle,” Reed said. “Not the high leg kick, not the slide step but lifting it quick and just going. That kind of got me a little bit more going into my delivery and going as opposed to the slide step, you’re just falling forward. This kind of got me to gather everything on my back leg and then shoot toward home plate.”

[MORE: Rick Renteria reportedly being considered for Sox bench coach]

Once he arrived at that, Reed began to divide the plate into quadrants and worked on his fastball command. Whether it was up or down, in or out, Reed rediscovered his fastball and cleaned up his slider, which hitters were able to ignore in the first half because he couldn’t throw it for a strike.

But Reed -- whose wife gave birth to the couple’s first child shortly after he went to the minors -- thinks his attitude was equally important to his success.

“I went down there and actually had a blast,” Reed said. “The guys were awesome and it kind of brought me back to the days I was in the minor leagues and coming up and having all that fun.”

He has had an even better time since the Mets acquired him on Aug. 30 for a pair of minor leaguers, neither of who is ranked in the team’s top 30 prospects by MLB.com. Reed, who saved 69 games in two-plus seasons with the White Sox, said the Mets have had an air of confidence about them, one he immediately felt when he joined the team.

Now, he’s only four victories away from earning a World Series ring.

“Unbelievable,” Reed said. “This is why you play. You play for the position we’re in and I’m having a blast. It’s been nothing but fun since I’ve come over here.

“There’s been that feeling since I came over that we had a pretty good team. I won’t say we knew we were going to be here, but I think we expected to be here, where we’re at right now. Everything has kind of clicked.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: American League All-Stars rave about Jose Abreu

With Jose Abreu playing in the All-Star Game, we asked some of his American League teammates about the White Sox first baseman. Justin Verlander, Craig Kimbrel and Michael Brantley rave about Abreu, explaining why he’s such a great hitter and a tough out for pitchers. 

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

All Star of the present Jose Abreu trying to help Yoan Moncada become the All Star of the future for White Sox

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the White Sox wait for their All Stars of the future to develop, Jose Abreu is representing the club at the All-Star Game in the nation’s capital.

Abreu, elected by the fans to be the American League’s starting first baseman Tuesday night, might represent the White Sox present, but he’s a key part of their future, as well. While his contract situation remains a mystery — the team would need to extend him in order to keep around past the 2019 season — he’s helping to develop the players who are planned to make up the next contending group on the South Side.

No player is more under Abreu’s guiding hand than Yoan Moncada, his fellow Cuban who just a season ago was the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Moncada’s development from top prospect into star of the future is the biggest storyline of the season for the White Sox. And Abreu, the role model in this clubhouse, is in part tasked with helping Moncada do just that.

“Our friendship is special,” Moncada said through a team translator last week. “We’re always talking about everything, having fun. He gives me advice, and I always try to make fun of him. Our relationship has been for a long time. We were friends in Cuba. And now we are rejoined here. It’s just a very good relationship. I’m blessed having him here.”

“He’s a Cuban, and it’s always special to play with a fellow Cuban countryman. He’s a great kid,” Abreu said through a team translator Monday. “I think that it’s a blessing. The White Sox did all that they could do for us to play together. I’m just enjoying the moment and every day with him. It’s special. It’s definitely a very special feeling.”

Abreu is often lauded by White Sox brass as the perfect example of what they want their young players to become. His incredible production makes that an easy comparison: He put up at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first four major league seasons. But it’s what he does outside the lines that gets the highest praise. Rick Hahn, Rick Renteria and all of Abreu’s teammates constantly talk about his work ethic, his routine, his dedication to getting better and the way he goes about his business.

Moncada’s noticed. And he sees Abreu’s latest accomplishment — getting picked as an All-Star starter — as vindication that, yes, Abreu’s methods certainly work.

“Knowing him, knowing all the effort that he puts into his preparation, his work ethic, all that work that he puts into his preparation is paying off and he’s recognized with this election,” Moncada said. “That’s something that motivates you, something that lets you know that if you do things the right way, you’re going to get rewarded. For me, it’s a motivation, and I feel really honored to share this team with him.”

Moncada’s first full season in the bigs hasn’t gone smoothly. He’s had his hot stretches — including the last couple weeks; he’s slashing .356/.453/.644 since July 2 — but he’s also had long periods of struggles. Certain aspects, such as a propensity for striking out and making errors at second base, have been constants throughout the campaign.

Renteria refers to the mistakes and the poor results as teachable moments. Does he have a proxy teacher in Abreu?

“I tell him to enjoy the game,” Abreu said. “Enjoy the game, have fun, be a little more focused on the situation of the game. But I think the key is to have fun.”

Mostly, though, Abreu is convinced that Moncada will blossom into the kind of player White Sox fans hoped he would when he brought that top-prospect track record to the organization in the Chris Sale trade. The expectations are undoubtedly high, but Abreu’s been seeing Moncada meet them for some time. The two have known each other since the younger Moncada was 17 years old.

“I think that he was born with special abilities to play this sport,” Abreu said. “Before I met him, there were a lot of people talking about him in Cuba because of his abilities, the talent that he has. And when I met him, it was a very special moment. As soon as I met him, I realized, ‘Wow, what people say about him is true.’ His body type, his ability to play the game. He’s special.”

So will the All Star of today and the All Star of tomorrow one day share the All-Star stage?

“I would like to have that opportunity. Let’s pray to God to have that opportunity,” Abreu said. “If that happens, that would be really special for us.”