Yordan's idol Abreu excited to join World Series champs

January 22nd, 2023

HOUSTON -- Making his way around Minute Maid Park on Saturday afternoon, slugger José Abreu was reminded why he signed with the Astros. Throngs of fans dressed in 2022 World Series championship gear filled the ballpark for the team’s first FanFest since 2020, while his new teammates answered questions about the Astros’ chances of repeating.

Abreu, who signed a three-year contract with the Astros in November after nine seasons with the White Sox, couldn’t help but feel the excitement and enthusiasm himself. The former American League Most Valuable Player will be 36 on Opening Day and relishes the opportunity to win his first championship. When asked what excites him the most about the Astros, he didn’t hesitate.

“World champions,” he said with a smile.

Abreu has played in only seven postseason games in his career, including four against the Astros in a White Sox loss in the 2021 AL Division Series. The Astros, meanwhile, have been to six consecutive AL Championship Series and have won four pennants and two World Series titles since 2017. He joins a potent lineup that includes 2017 AL MVP , 2019 AL MVP runner-up , All-Stars and and 2022 World Series MVP .

“As an outsider, I’m a new part of his family, and we have a lot of talent,” Abreu said.

Abreu is expected to bat sixth in the Houston order behind Alvarez, Bregman and Tucker, giving him plenty of RBI opportunities. Last year, Abreu hit .304 with a .824 OPS, posting a .378 on-base percentage that ranked second in his career and drawing a career-high 62 walks.

“He was kind of a nightmare facing him when I was in Minnesota,” Astros closer Ryan Pressly said of Abreu. “He’s a really good hitter. He has power to all sides of the field, and I have a feeling he’s going to hit a lot of home runs here. It’s fun to watch him, and it’s good to have him on our side.”

Alvarez, a fellow Cuban who finished third in the AL MVP balloting last year, has idolized Abreu for a long time and was thrilled to hear he had signed with Houston. Abreu said he won’t rest until Alvarez achieves all his goals.

“As soon as he signed, I was able to call and say hello to him,” Alvarez said. “We’ve gotten a chance to talk a lot more. I’m super excited for him to be there. It was hard losing Yuli [Gurriel], but losing a Cuban and getting a Cuban guy, I feel really excited for him to be here.”

The 2020 AL MVP, 2014 AL Rookie of the Year, three-time All-Star and a three-time Silver Slugger, Abreu hit only 15 home runs and drove in 75 runs in 157 games last year. He’s said regaining his power stroke will be a priority and getting a glimpse Saturday of the Crawford Boxes -- which are only 315 feet down the left-field line -- made him smile.

“I like this stadium,” he said.

Abreu has already spoken with the hitting coaches to try to better tap into his strengths and his power. He averaged 29 homers per year from 2014-21.

“They spoke to me a little about my offense and how it would help the organization,” Abreu said. “They told me to continue to be the same person, the same person I was the last nine years in the Majors.”

The Astros will be a World Series contender again in 2023, and Abreu figures to be a big part of it. Saturday’s talk of a World Series repeat sounded pretty good to him.

“I can’t predict the future,” he said. “I can’t say that I’m going to put up certain numbers, but I’m very excited to be here and just be excited to support the team. Again, very grateful for all the guys giving me the opportunity to be here."