Sox's Abreu named AL player and rookie of month

May 06, 2014|By Colleen Kane, Tribune reporter

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu made his official introduction to the Cubs and Wrigley Field on a chilly Monday night, starting with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a walk in the ninth inning.

His introduction to Major League Baseball already has been a success, so much so that he was named the American League Player and Rookie of the Month for April, the first month of his big league career.

Abreu, 27, won the awards less than a year after he arrived in the United States following his defection from Cuba and a little more than six months after he signed with the Sox for six years and $68 million.

“I had a little anxiety of getting to know baseball here in the United States,” Abreu said through a team interpreter Monday. “But I wouldn’t call it nervousness, it was just anxiety to go through it and be able to experience it. Now, one month into it, it’s a great thing. I’m excited. I have to thank all the people that helped me through it.”

Abreu hit .270 with eight doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 32 RBIs and 20 runs scored in 29 games in March and April. He led the majors in home runs, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits and set major league rookie records in each of those categories through April.

His biggest moment came April 25 against the Rays, when he hit a walk-off grand slam, the first by a Sox player since manager Robin Ventura did it in 1991.

“It’s a great testament to him and how hard he has worked and how quickly he has been able to make the adjustment to the league and a new clubhouse and a new culture,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “Very impressive to watch.

“If he continues the pace he is on right now, it’s going to be a pretty special season around here. Thus far he has been what we have hoped in terms of being a stabilizing presence in the middle of that lineup and a prolific run producer who changes the dynamic of the middle of our order.”

Abreu is the second player in major league history to be named player of the month in his first month. The first was former Cuban teammate Yasiel Puig last year. He is the ninth Sox player to win the award and first since Magglio Ordonez in July 2003.

Ventura said Abreu’s age and maturity have helped him to the fast start.

“He's a humble kid,” Ventura said. “He just wants to be a good baseball player. He's not doing any of this for any type of outside accolades or endorsements or anything like that.”

Sox pitcher Chris Sale said he is glad he doesn’t have to make adjustments to Abreu.

“He’s been unfazed,” Sale said. “He has kept his head up. He grinds. He works hard. … I don’t think it’s a fluke what he’s done. People might be like, ‘Oh, beginner’s luck.’ But unfortunately for the rest of the league, I think that’s not the case.”

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Twitter @ChiTribKane

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