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Coming off huge first season, Abreu won't rest on laurels

AL Rookie of Year plans to 'correct some flaws' in his swing this winter
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu quickly became as well known for his tireless work ethic on a daily basis as he did for his prodigious clouts to left or line-drive opposite-field singles to right.

This is the seasoned White Sox rookie who showed up early to Spring Training to begin the acclimation process and increase his work for this first season. This is the consummate pro who always used his batting practice sessions to focus on offensive approach and not just put on some sort of home run show, even asking White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson during the season to move him to the third group so he could take swings closer to game time.

CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu quickly became as well known for his tireless work ethic on a daily basis as he did for his prodigious clouts to left or line-drive opposite-field singles to right.

This is the seasoned White Sox rookie who showed up early to Spring Training to begin the acclimation process and increase his work for this first season. This is the consummate pro who always used his batting practice sessions to focus on offensive approach and not just put on some sort of home run show, even asking White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson during the season to move him to the third group so he could take swings closer to game time.

Abreu better understands the duress of a 162-game schedule after seeing it up close and personal for the first time in his baseball career. But don't think those extra games will reduce the time and energy put in by Abreu, including his preparation during this offseason.

"Nothing is going to change," said Abreu through interpreter and White Sox Spanish-language broadcaster Hector Molina. "We are going to do the same thing we did last year. You can not feel too comfortable about the situation. You have to work. You have to keep on working all the time.

Video: Abreu unanimously wins AL Rookie of the Year

"I feel comfortable doing that. I've worked hard all my life. It doesn't bother me to do that."

When asked what specifically he would be working at after his stellar rookie season, Abreu pointed to getting better at what he does and "trying to correct some flaws in my swing." He will start with cardio early next week and then begin baseball work during the first few weeks of December.

A major overhaul won't be needed for Abreu's offensive game based on his American League Rookie of the Year results. Abreu also finished fourth in the AL Most Valuable Player balloting, checking in behind Mike Trout, Victor Martinez and Michael Brantley. His finish was the highest by a White Sox player in MVP voting since Frank Thomas was second in 2000.

It was the highest finish by an AL rookie since Trout was second in '12. It was the highest finish by a Cuban born player since Jose Canseco was fourth in 1991. Abreu became the 25th White Sox player to finish in the top five in the AL MVP race, with Paul Konerko being the most recent courtesy of a fifth-place finish in 2010.

Video: 120 Sports on Jose Abreu's impact on the White Sox

Having a year of Major League experience on field, simply being in the United States and as part of the White Sox organization will only help Abreu get better from a solid starting point of his .317 average, 36 homers, 107 RBIs and Major League best .581 slugging percentage. As Abreu prepares, he's also ready to take on more of a leadership role in '15.

"It's going to be difficult to follow the steps of Paul Konerko. He's an institution," Abreu said. "But if they see me as a leader, I'm willing to do that. It's going to be hard. It's not easy to be Paul Konerko: even Adam Dunn was a great guy on the bench."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin.

Chicago White Sox, Jose Abreu