Fans have clamored for him to hit second, but Jose Abreu simply doesn’t care where he Robin Ventura lists him on the lineup card.
A day after he dropped Jimmy Rollins out of the two hole, the White Sox manager moved Abreu up from his customary third spot to second for Friday’s contest against the Kansas City Royals. Ventura didn’t commit to how long he’d try Abreu in the spot, but said the move is in hope of jumpstarting both his slugger and the team’s offense, which is in a little rut. It’s the 35th time Abreu has batted second with the previous 34 coming last season. The team went 15-19 in those games.
“We did it last year, mixed it up a little bit, Ventura said. “He seemed to handle it fine. You’re just moving guys around. Offensively we’ve been in a rut.”
Though Abreu only is nine RBIs behind baseball’s league leader (Robinson Cano, 36), he’s yet to have a lengthy hot streak. There’s no question that Abreu hasn’t been himself. Normally a beast with runners in scoring position (he has a .976 career OPS), Abreu is hitting at a .265/.361/.286 clip with no homers and 18 RBIs in 61 plate appearances this season. The first baseman said before Friday’s game he doesn’t mind where he bats and that he feels fine and hasn’t changed his process.
“I’ve been feeling good,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “Step by step, I’ve been feeling better. I know I have to keep working hard. I’ve been feeling very good. It’s a work in progress. It’s a long season, but I’ve been feeling very good.”
Abreu entered Friday hitting .290/.338/.478 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 148 plate appearances batting second. Leadoff man Adam Eaton would seem to be the biggest beneficiary as he expects to see more fastballs. But Eaton said not much changed with Abreu behind him in the lineup last season.
“You’re in scoring position at first base,” Eaton said. “I don’t know if there’s a huge difference. I’ll approach it the same.”
Ventura suggested he likes how Abreu’s use of right field could come into play with Eaton on base. Perhaps the White Sox hope that getting Abreu to hit it to the right side will get him back on track. Either way, Ventura doesn’t intend to ask Abreu to do anything different when he mans the position.
“I just want him to go play,” Ventura said. “There’s times to take pitches, he’s probably taken too many at this point. I’m not sitting there putting any parameters on what he has to do just because he’s hitting in the two-hole. It’s just mixing it up and a letting him go out and he uses the other side of the field very well, I think that’s part of it as well.”