White Sox

White Sox: Healthy Jose Abreu producing at 2014 levels again

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White Sox: Healthy Jose Abreu producing at 2014 levels again

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Not only did Jose Abreu make some swing adjustments at the All-Star break, he has also had the benefit of good health.

With a sore finger that lingered in part of the first half currently not an issue, the White Sox slugger once again looks like the record-breaking slugger he was in 2014. Over his past 18 games, of which he’s hit safely in 17, Abreu has a .348/.423/.725 slash line with seven home runs and 21 RBIs in 78 plate appearances. On Saturday, Abreu produced the fifth two-homer game of his career in a 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

[MORE: Fresh Jose Abreu hitting ball with authority for White Sox]

“He’s had some things injury wise that have held him back,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Last year the foot was a big issue, this year the finger, which changes the mechanics of things. As hard as he hits the ball it’s hard to keep that pace if you’re not feeling right. Right now he feels good and that’s why he’s hitting the ball harder and further. When he feels good he’s a better hitter.”

Twice this season Abreu, the reigning American League rookie of the year, had to take lengthy pauses in at-bats after he re-aggravated the soreness in his right index finger by fouling off a pitch. He also was relegated to duty as a designated hitter only for the better part of a week in late May/early June when he couldn’t properly grip the ball. Ventura believes the finger bothered Abreu more than he would admit and his power numbers may have suffered.

Whereas Abreu blasted 29 homers before the All-Star break on his way to a club rookie-record 36 in 2014, he only hit 14 this season. But Abreu has picked up the pace, hitting seven in the second half so far — matching his post-break total from last season. In Cleveland, Abreu said his finger felt better and he was thankful and didn’t want to talk about it any further — perhaps to avoid jinxing his good health.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Jose Abreu jersey]

While Abreu — who received co-AL player of the week honors with Adam Eaton on Monday — has enjoyed his good health and the productivity it has allowed for, he’d trade it for team victories. The White Sox have lost seven of their last nine amid Abreu’s hot streak.

“I have been feeling very good after the All-Star Game,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “The power has been there and the homers have been there also. But the most important thing is to get wins. It doesn’t matter what you can do on as an individual, the most important thing is what you can do as a team. At this moment what we do individually is not as important as the result we get.”

Podcast: Dylan Cease raves about the White Sox farm system

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AP

Podcast: Dylan Cease raves about the White Sox farm system

Coming to you from Washington DC, we speak with Dylan Cease who competed in the MLB Futures Game along with his Birmingham Barons teammate Luis Basabe. 

Cease talks about the White Sox loaded farm system, what players have impressed him the most, where he gets his composure on the mound and more. 

Check out the entire podcast here:

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the prospect who got away: White Sox fans, read this at your own risk

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the prospect who got away: White Sox fans, read this at your own risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fernando Tatis, Jr. is one of the brightest future stars in the game. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, one spot behind Eloy Jimenez.

He’s a five-tool shortstop slashing .289/.359/.509 at Double-A San Antonio with 15 home runs, 42 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 85 games. He’s bilingual, charismatic, the kind of guy who could be a face of a franchise.

And two years ago, he was property of the White Sox.

That was until they traded Tatis, who was only 17 at the time, to the Padres for James Shields. Tatis had yet to play a single game in the White Sox farm system, so it was tough to predict his future. However, speaking with Tatis before he competed in the MLB Futures Game on Sunday, the trade was definitely a shock to him.

“I was surprised. It was weird. For a kid that young to get traded, I had never heard of it. When they told me that, I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” Tatis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

No front office is going to bat 1.000, and when it comes to Tatis, this is a trade the White Sox would love to have back.

But first, more perspective.

In June of 2016, six months before the White Sox started their rebuild, they were 29-26, a game and a half out of first place. With Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and a healthy Carlos Rodon anchoring their rotation, they felt that with the addition of Shields, they could compete for the division.

Unfortunately, perception didn’t meet reality. Shields struggled on the mound with the White Sox in 2016 and 2017. His numbers have improved considerably, and he could return the White Sox another prospect if he’s dealt before the trade deadline. However, it’s unlikely they’ll receive a player with the potential that Tatis has right now.

“(The trade) was about getting a good starter so they could get to the playoffs. I understood. I know this game is a business,” Tatis said.

Before the trade occurred, Tatis looked into his future and saw a day when he’d be the White Sox starting shortstop.

“Yeah, that was my goal when (White Sox director of international scouting) Marco Paddy signed me,” Tatis said. “We talked about it when I started and that was the goal.”

His goal now is to make it to the major leagues with the Padres.

“I’m pretty close. I want to keep working. When they decide to call me up, I’ll be ready.”

As for his former team, he’s impressed with the talent the White Sox have assembled.

“They’re building something special. They have really good prospects. I wish the best for them.”

You can’t help but wonder what the rebuild would look like if Tatis was along for the ride. He’s the one who got away.