White Sox

Jose Abreu was never not coming back to the White Sox: 'I don't care about the money'

Jose Abreu was never not coming back to the White Sox: 'I don't care about the money'

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Abreu was never not coming back to the White Sox.

Given the loving language he used throughout the 2019 season to describe his affinity for the South Side and his intent to play there forever — a mutual affection, it should be noted, that the team felt toward him, too — there's no great leap that needed to be made to come to that conclusion.

But Abreu himself provided confirmation Friday.

During his late-morning media session at Camelback Ranch, where he's already reported for his seventh spring training with the White Sox, the slugger revealed he didn't even talk with other teams during his brief time as a free agent this winter.

"My agent and I were focused on the White Sox. That was our focus through the whole process," he said through team interpreter Billy Russo. "My mom taught me to be thankful, and I'm really thankful to be with the White Sox.

"Yes, we had conversations with a team: with the White Sox."

Who knows if other teams were willing to pay Abreu more than the $50 million he'll earn over the next three seasons. Abreu and his agent might not even know. But that was apparently not the priority for the first baseman who's earned his status as the face of the franchise and one of the more productive players in team history.

Asked if free agency was supposed to be about getting as much money as you can, Abreu responded, in English: "I don't care about the money."

"It's not all about the money," he continued, through Russo. "My family is good in Chicago. They love Chicago. They are really grateful and good with the White Sox organization, just the way that the organization has treated them. The fans, all the support, we feel comfortable in Chicago. For us, it didn't make sense to look around for other places."

And while some concerned only with stats might express worry that Abreu's production could slide with age during his upcoming contract — though the 2019 campaign was one of his most productive, a year that saw him lead the American League in RBIs and come three homers shy of matching his career high — his meaning to the team should be no question at all.

"Everybody knows the kind of person that he is," Yoan Moncada said through Russo on Friday. "Everybody knows he’s our leader. He’s our mentor. He’s been on this team in the big leagues for a long time now, and he’s always trying to lead by example. He’s always trying to take care of the young guys, but actually he’s always trying to take care of everybody around the team. That’s something that shows you the great person that he is. That’s something that shows you the kind of leader that he is.

"Everybody follows him. I follow him. The other guys follow him because he’s an example for all of us. That’s something that really has stuck with us about Pito."

Abreu spent the 2019 season preaching his love of the White Sox. But the team's love of him is no less apparent, seeming to hold him in the same regard as players who have their numbers retired and statues standing at Guaranteed Rate Field.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see No. 79 up there one day. And Abreu wants to make sure he never plays anywhere else.

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Dylan Cease shows off big velocity in first spring training start

Dylan Cease shows off big velocity in first spring training start

Dylan Cease is entering the 2020 season with plenty to prove. Considering how important he is to the future of the White Sox, it is perhaps fitting he was the first White Sox pitcher to take a mound in a spring training game.

On Saturday, Cease pitched two innings against the Cincinnati Reds as he ramps up to full strength. The most notable thing wasn’t how long he pitched or what his stat line was. It was his fastball.

Cease's fastball sat mostly at 96-98 mph and topped at 99. Cease quipped there could be a bit more in terms of his velocity.


Cease averaged 96.5 mph on his fastball in the majors in 2019. In 73 innings, he threw nine pitches that were at least 99 mph, topping out at 100.1 mph, according to Baseball Savant. He was capable of throwing that hard, but didn't do it often. For Cease to be on the higher end of his average and feature a 99 mph fastball in his first pitches of Cactus League baseball might be a sign that he could have added a touch more velocity.

It’s also just a two-inning spring training start, meaning Cease knew he could let fly a bit more in a shorter outing. Cease told reporters after his start he was focusing on his fastball command. He struck out three with no walks and three hits allowed.

In his rookie season, Cease struggled with command and consistency. He had a 5.79 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 35 walks over 14 starts.

February baseball doesn't carry any meaning, but this is a small encouraging sign for Cease.

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Kenny Williams shuts down rumor connecting free agent Yasiel Puig to White Sox

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USA TODAY

Kenny Williams shuts down rumor connecting free agent Yasiel Puig to White Sox

You can put to bed the rumors about free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig possibly signing with the White Sox. It’s not happening.

The two sides did get together during the MLB Winter Meetings in December. Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn and Rick Renteria met with Puig for about 90 minutes to discuss the possibility of the 29-year-old joining the White Sox as their everyday right fielder.

But instead, the White Sox chose to take a different route. That same week, they acquired Nomar Mazara from the Texas Rangers for minor league outfielder Steele Walker, ending any chance of Puig coming to the South Side.

“After our meeting we came away big Yasiel Puig fans, but he wasn’t the right fit for us then and he isn’t right now,” Williams said.

With spring training games starting this weekend and the regular season a little over a month away, fellow Cuban Jose Abreu says he’s surprised the flashy 29-year-old outfielder remains a free agent.

“Yes, I am (surprised). That’s one of those things that happen that you don’t understand. A guy with his talent. He’s still so young,” Abreu said through a translator. “He doesn’t have a team yet. It’s a surprise. I’m confident he’s going to find something this year.”

Even with Puig’s talent, Abreu looks around the White Sox clubhouse and agrees with the decision by the White Sox not to sign the former All-Star who hit .267/.327/.458 with the Reds and Indians last season.

“I don’t think he would be a good fit here. Don’t get me wrong. He has a lot of talent but we’re full," Abreu said. "Our outfield is looking great with Nomar (Mazara), Eloy (Jimenez) and (Luis) Robert. There’s no reason for us to make more moves in that area of our team. He’s someone who would fit in with any major league ball club because he has the talent to help any of those teams.”

What about possibly platooning Puig with Mazara in right field? On paper, that might sound like a good plan, although Puig has traditionally hit better against righties than lefties in his career. But a larger issue could be the timeshare. The idea of Puig, nicknamed “Wild Horse,” being forced to the stable for half the season could spell problems not only for him, but the chemistry inside the clubhouse.

“It would be difficult, especially for him being an everyday player,” Abreu said about Puig being a platoon player.  “When you have to make that decision, it’s not easy.”

So, where will Puig end up?  No one knows for sure but it won’t be with the White Sox.  

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