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.
“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.
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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.”