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Abreu leaves strong impression on Sox at minicamp

Hitting coach, GM praise first baseman, who plans to return to Glendale on Feb. 3

CHICAGO -- A handful of White Sox players, coaches and executives got their first look at first baseman Jose Abreu on Tuesday at the club's minicamp for hitters at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.

The takeaway on Abreu -- inked to a six-year, $68 million deal in October -- was one of impression and excitement.

"That's a strong man right here," White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson said. "That's a big man. He has a nice smooth, compact approach. He didn't try to do too much with the ball and the ball was flying off his bat. I think he has a nice bright future coming up with him."

Abreu was one of a handful of young players on hand at the camp as the White Sox continue the reshaping process they began last July. Although other key players such as third baseman Matt Davidson, center fielder Adam Eaton, catcher Josh Phegley and prospects Marcus Semien, Courtney Hawkins, Jared Mitchell, Trayce Thompson and Keenyn Walker are participating in the workouts, it's clear Abreu is one of, if not the biggest, cornerstones for the club's future.

Many in the organization hadn't seen Abreu firsthand before inking him to the deal, instead relying on video and reports. Though several rounds of batting practice is just that, general manager Rick Hahn admitted it's hard not to get excited about Abreu, who turns 27 on Jan. 29.

"We try to keep in mind that it's Jan. 14 and we still have a ways to go," Hahn said. "But just watching Jose go through his work, you saw that professionalism as well as the plus-plus power on display today in only his first couple of rounds of BP. He's a very serious hitter. He's one who goes up there with a plan and has a great deal of ability, and it's going to be fun to see how this plays out over the next couple of years."

Abreu has been working out with a trainer in Miami since arriving in the U.S., but only started hitting about a week ago. As he prepares for his first Major League season, he has had limited conversations with players about how the transition into the Majors will be.

Those figure to come during the spring, when Abreu -- who will return to Miami after the minicamp -- returns to Glendale on Feb. 3 in preparation for Spring Training.

"I wouldn't say I'm anxious but I want to start," Abreu said. "I want to get it going. That's why I'm going to come back in on Feb. 3 and get it going here."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth.

Chicago White Sox, Jose Abreu