DETROIT -- Sounds like it’ll take more than a postponement to keep Jose Abreu from hitting second for the White Sox.
Though he joked a good night’s sleep could change his mind, White Sox manager Robin Ventura suggested he would keep his slugger in the second spot for Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Detroit Tigers.
With the White Sox struggling against left-handed pitchers all season, Ventura wants his best hitter to get as many possible opportunities to hit and had placed Abreu second in Saturday’s lineup against Tigers lefty Kyle Ryan. Even though the game has been rained out, Detroit will start southpaw David Price and that is likely to keep Abreu hitting second for the first time in his career.
“We’ve had a tough go left-handed wise,” Ventura said. “Shuffling it up enough to move him up and give him another opportunity if it’s there. I think with a lineup you tend to shuffle and find something that works and this looks like a good move right now, to be able to get him up there and something to shuffle the deck.
“We’ll see how it goes, but I like having him bat that many times, definitely.”
Surprised by the news but willing to do whatever he’s asked, Abreu said his approach wouldn’t change with the switch. Ventura doesn’t want the slugger to change, either.
Abreu hasn’t batted this high in the order since in his early days in Cuba. All of his starts with the White Sox have come with him hitting third or fourth.
“It doesn’t matter what spot in the lineup that I am,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “The only difference now being in the second spot is that I’m probably going to get one more at-bat and I’m going to see more pitches.
“I’m going to keep my regular approach.”
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Abreu even said he’s capable of bunting if it’s necessary, though Ventura made it clear he doesn’t want to see that. But Abreu said he works on bunting every day in batting practice and can do it if needed.
“They are there,” Abreu said of his skills. “I always try in BP to bunt. It’s not for the routine. I try to do it because you never know what situation in the game you have to do it. If the opportunity is for me to bunt, I’m going to bunt.”
Even though they signed Melky Cabrera to hit second, White Sox No. 2 hitters have a collective .220/.255/.257 slash line with the .511 OPS representing the worst numbers from any spot in their lineup. That .511 OPS from two-hole hitters ranks 30th in the majors, 94 points below the next worst team and 226 points below the .737 league average.
The White Sox have also struggled mightily against southpaws with a .563 OPS. They’re hitting .673 versus right-handers.
“I like him to be up there,” Ventura said. “That two hole for us has always been a rough spot. And with us facing lefties, we have enough righties to be able to fill in the rest of the spots. Just move him up and give him more opportunities.”