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Abreu plays in simulated game

CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu moved closer to returning from the disabled list Saturday morning when he faced a pair of Minor League relievers brought up from extended spring training in a simulated game at U.S. Cellular Field.

Abreu, who has been on the DL since May 18 with left ankle inflammation, is targeting Monday against the Dodgers for his return, the first day he's eligible for activation.

Abreu understandably looked rusty facing his first live pitching since going on the DL. It took him at least three or four at-bats to put a ball in play, though he was plunked just above the left elbow by Brad Salgado, who is converting from infielder to reliever .

When Abreu did put the ball in play, he made solid contact. Of the six balls he put in play over the nine or 10 at-bats, he lined a single to left, snuck a ground-ball single down the left-field line, lined a ball to straightaway center and hit a ground-rule double off the warning track in left-center. He ran out the majority of the balls he put in play, including going to second base when applicable.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the club decided to have Abreu participate in simulated games Saturday and Sunday in place of a rehab assignment so head athletic trainer Herm Schneider and his staff could keep a close eye on their rookie sensation.

"I think Herm was pretty adamant about keeping him here and being able to watch him," Ventura said. "And we have a better idea of his mannerisms and his reactions to certain things."

The most important thing is that Abreu becomes reacclimated to facing live pitching.

"Yea I think just how he reacts, but you're getting him, you're giving him the ability to see a guy live instead of just throwing batting practice," Ventura said. "It's hard to simulate Major League pitching, but this is about as close as you can get as far as a guy coming out there live, and it's not just coming in straight.

"So he'll have to take pitches and I think that's going to be the biggest thing is just reaction-wise and him seeing pitches and not having to send him out on a rehab assignment."

The White Sox have stayed afloat while their most productive hitter has been unavailable. Despite averaging just 3.33 runs per game in the 12 games Abreu has missed, the Sox have gone 7-5 in that span.

"Well I think once you drop him in the middle of the lineup it moves people around," Ventura said. "It gives you a deeper, longer lineup than you would have without him in there, and we've seen the impact of having him in the lineup compared to having him out. We realize we're a lot better with him in it."

Joe Popely is an associate reporter for
Read More: Chicago White Sox, Jose Abreu