ABREU ISN’T AFRAID OF THE PARK
In these difficult times, veteran’s leadership skills are invaluable
Jose Abreu is not afraid. He knows the risks — and has concerns for his family in Miami and for himself and his White Sox teammates — during this pandemic.
He will take the necessary precautions as the Sox prepare for a 60-game season, but he won’t live in fear.
“If you live your life in peace, everything is going to be OK,” Abreu said this week.
“In God’s hands, everything is going to be good, and God is going to protect us.”
A calming presence from a veteran leader goes a long way as the Sox’ group of players and staff work every day at Guaranteed Rate Field, which is dressed to the nines in coronavirus prevention measures.
Two unnamed teammates tested positive — although both were asymptomatic — before they arrived, one of them believed to be Yoan Moncada. More than 40 players around baseball are known to have tested positive. So there is a sense of awareness from the three-time All-Star.
“This is something we are all facing; we are all making adjustments to the COVID-19 virus,” Abreu said.
And so the Sox go about their business, doing what they can to stay healthy. They feel like they are in as safe an environment as they can be under the circumstances of being baseball players.
“Here we get tested every other day,” right-hander Steve Cishek said Thursday, “so I feel a lot safer coming here and training [compared to] what I was doing in Florida, where who knows what the guy next to you is doing.”
In the meantime, Abreu’s voice and presence continue to mean something to his teammates, one of the reasons why the Sox re-signed him to a three-year, $50 million deal in the offseason. During the 33-year-old veteran’s conference call with media this week, there he was talking about things that can distract and interfere with the things that matter. For up-andcoming young stars such as Eloy
Jimenez and Luis Robert with their new wealth and fame, new challenges come along. Nice problems to have, but these are issues that require attention.
“Be strong because it’s hard,” Abreu warned. “I’m going to be there with [Jimenez]. If he needs something, however I can help him, I’m going to be there just to help and support him. That’s going to be a plus, too, the same way I’m going to be there for Luis Robert.”
The Sox played their first intrasquad game Thursday, 15 days ahead of the season opener against the Twins. Abreu lined out and singled in his two at-bats. There’s no time to waste getting ready.
And everyone needs to be ready when the bell rings in two weeks.
“Sixty games is going to be different for us,” Abreu said. “We have to go every day trying to win every game, and there’s no room for error. We have to . . . take advantage of this situation.”
This three-week period is the new sixweek prep time of a normal spring training in Arizona. The facilities are different, and there is a sense of speeding things up, even though the Sox trained four weeks before the shutdown in March.
“Us players have to get used to that routine or those limitations, those hours the schedule has,” Abreu said. “[It will take time] for us to feel real comfortable, but at the end, I think we’re going to do it without any major problems.
“It’s on us to keep our focus and work hard to try to be in the best shape as possible when the season starts. It’s on us.”
In a pandemic, some of it might be out of their hands. Those things, Abreu isn’t losing sleep over.
“Make the right decisions in every moment,” he said. “Just do the best that we can in this situation.”
White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu says there’s no room for error in a 60-game season.
Jose Abreu is one of the leaders in the clubhouse.