Jose Abreu began his fourth year in the major leagues with a clear head and desire to do more for the franchise with which he hopes to spend his entire career.
Abreu doubled, singled and delivered an RBI in four at-bats in the White Sox 6-3 Opening Day loss to the Detroit Tigers Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field. It was a promising start for Abreu (minus his sixth-inning error), who during spring training testified in a case against his former agent, Bartolo Hernandez, and athletic trainer, Julio Estrada, that involved his 2013 defection from Cuba.
"Everybody knows last year was a difficult year for me off the field, but that's in the past already," Abreu said through a interpreter. "This year I'm in a much better place. My family is good. Everything is good from me."
The White Sox believe the case Abreu eventually testified in had an impact on his 2016 season, which was a down year by his standards. Abreu's 25 home runs and .820 OPS were both the lowest of his three-year career, though he still drove in 100 runs.
"Everybody realizes last year he had a part of a season that was a little bit down then he ended up turning it on at the end," manager Rick Renteria said. "There were a lot of things going on with him at the end of the year and a lot of those things have been resolved."
A slow start muted Abreu's production last year, with the Cienfuegos, Cuba native entering the All-Star break with only 11 home runs and a .756 OPS. He hit much like the 2014-2015 Abreu in the second half, though, slamming 14 home runs with a .898 OPS.
That's the kind of production Abreu wants to have over the course of the 2017 season.
"I'm very glad with the results that I've (had) the last few years," Abreu said. "But I also think that I can do more. I can do more. I'm not one of those people who likes to be satisfied with the results. I know I can do better and I can do more for this team."
Abreu has value beyond his on-field production, too. His locker was next to Yoan Moncada's at Camelback Ranch during spring training, and Abreu said he would probably text MLB.com's No. 2 prospect soon. Moncada and the Charlotte Knights will begin their Triple-A season on Thursday.
Abreu has three years left on his six-year, $68 million contract — still the richest in White Sox history — and wants to stay here at 35th and Shields. But his name popped up in a winter trade rumor connecting him to the Colorado Rockies, and with the White Sox in the early stages of rebuilding, the possibility exists that he'll be dealt for a package of prospects at some point.
"I (want) just to spend my whole career with this organization," Abreu said. "At the same time, you have to realize this is a business and that there are too many factors you can't control. I can't control that. I'm just glad to be here today and that's what I like, to enjoy every time, every day with this team. It's a great organization and I would like to spend my whole career here."