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Bat speed, balance key to Abreu's power stroke

Special to MLB.com

DENVER -- In Spring Training, Jose Abreu hit three home runs in 56 at-bats. And he went homerless in his first 29 regular-season at-bats until the seventh inning Tuesday when he hit a three-run home run off Rockies reliever Chad Bettis.

The home run gave the White Sox a 7-2 lead and propelled them on their way to 15-3 victory. Abreu fought back from an 0-2 hole, fouled off six straight 2-2 pitches and homered on the first curveball that Bettis threw him.

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DENVER -- In Spring Training, Jose Abreu hit three home runs in 56 at-bats. And he went homerless in his first 29 regular-season at-bats until the seventh inning Tuesday when he hit a three-run home run off Rockies reliever Chad Bettis.

The home run gave the White Sox a 7-2 lead and propelled them on their way to 15-3 victory. Abreu fought back from an 0-2 hole, fouled off six straight 2-2 pitches and homered on the first curveball that Bettis threw him.

Full Game Coverage

The home run displays might have been missing in Spring Training, but the White Sox knew what they had in Abreu, a Cuban defector whom they signed for $68 million.

"You just hear it, the sound that comes off his bat when he hits it, especially going the other way," manager Robin Ventura said. "There's a few guys that have it; he's one that has it. The way it comes off his bat, the sound, the velocity it comes off his bat going the other way. In Spring Training, you see it a couple times and you take a second look real quick, making sure you're seeing the right thing. It's a gift."

It takes premium bat speed to cause that explosive sound, and that bat speed results from a combination of hitting assets.

"It's his balance when he makes contact," Ventura said. "His thing is putting it on the barrel. But he's balanced when he does it. He does have bat speed. He has strength. When he makes contact, he's putting his whole body into it. He's in good position to make solid contact."

Abreu's home run off Bettis went down the left-field line. In the eighth, he hit a two-run homer to right-center. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Abreu is the first rookie in White Sox franchise history to have two four-plus RBI outputs in his first eight Major League games.

The Rockies were in the market for a first baseman following the retirement of Todd Helton after the 2013 season. They ended up signing free agent Justin Morneau to a two-year, $12.5 million contract, but not before making a serious run at Abreu.

"I knew we were in the running, and it was starting to get late in the process," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We had a lot of interest in him in the offseason, and all the reports were this guy is a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat. We saw that last night."

Jack Etkin is a contributor to MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chicago White Sox, Jose Abreu