Abreu, Puig reunite as opponents in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES -- It was somewhere around three hours before first pitch Monday at Dodger Stadium when Jose Abreu and Yasiel Puig, old friends and teammates, engaged in conversation behind the batting cage.
The two had not really caught up with each other since speaking during a Cactus League game in Arizona.
"We had a good conversation," said Abreu through interpreter and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "We're planning to probably do something after the game, go and have dinner or something like that where we can exchange a little bit more.
"Down in Arizona in Spring Training, it was tough for us to [meet]. As a matter of fact, the only exchange I had with him is when we played them right before the game. I am very glad I had the opportunity to do more today and will have the opportunity to do more during this series."
Abreu, the White Sox first baseman, and Puig, the Dodgers right fielder, have different playing styles, but the Cienfuegos' teammates in Cuba both have imposed their immense talent on the opposition since coming to the big leagues. Abreu returned to action against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, after being sidelined since May 18 with left ankle tendinitis.
At the time Abreu was placed on the disabled list, he topped the Majors with 15 homers and led the American League with 42 RBIs, 103 total bases and a .595 slugging percentage. The White Sox finished 8-6 without Abreu, but even as he shakes off rust, they clearly are better with him back.
"I'm just ready to go and play some games," Abreu said.
"You become a little more potent in the middle of your lineup," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Everybody moves back one spot. He's a good hitter. Anyone would like to have him in their lineup. The way we've been surviving without him, you are just glad to have him back and it's a nice shot in the arm."
Six Cuban-born players are featured in this three-game series. Joining Puig and Abreu are Adrian Nieto, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo with the White Sox and Erisbel Arruebarrena with the Dodgers. Arruebarrena, who was also part of Cienfuegos, came to get Abreu at the team hotel Monday to spend some time together.
"That doesn't happen all the time," Abreu said. "It's a good feeling to have them here, close together."