HOUSTON – José Abreu will start at designated hitter for the White Sox Thursday, in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
The decision came down about an hour before first pitch, with Abreu battling illness in recent days. White Sox manager Tony La Russa wrote up two versions of his lineup Thursday morning, he said, one with Abreu as the DH and one without him.
“He'll give anything for this team, anything for all the guys that play alongside him,” White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito said before the game. “He has been through a lot this year. Obviously going through stuff right now. He's got some of the most heart I've ever seen in a baseball player, and it's such a pleasure to be teammates with him and be able to watch him do what he does.”
Abreu sat out of the regular season finale Sunday for flu-like symptoms and dealt with fever Monday night, according to La Russa. Multiple tests confirmed that the illness was not COVID-19. Abreu was scheduled to travel to Houston Wednesday night, behind the rest of the team.
“Now, we're all brimming with happiness and excitement because the fever broke,” La Russa said Wednesday. “… Our worst fears were never realized. He'll be back in uniform.”
Outfielder Eloy Jiménez made a spot-on prediction before warmups Thursday.
“Every single day he plays no matter how he feels, and I think he's going to play today because he’s done that all year long. Having José is really good. He's really impressive.”
Abreu took batting practice on the field before the White Sox made the final call on his availability.
“This guy's a beautiful, beautiful soul,” La Russa said. “He's as beautiful a person as I've ever been around. That's tied for first with a lot of beautiful ones.”
Here’s the White Sox’ lineup, behind Game 1 starting pitcher Lance Lynn:
SS Tim Anderson
3B Yoán Moncada
DH José Abreu
C Yasmani Grandal
CF Luis Robert
LF Eloy Jiménez
1B Gavin Sheets
RF Adam Engel
2B Leury García
P Lance Lynn