Abreu's focus on playoffs, not accolades

Slumping Moncada dropped to No. 5 hole

August 26th, 2020

CHICAGO -- wasn’t exactly moved by capturing the American League Player of the Week honor as announced on Monday, marking the fifth such award in his great White Sox career.

The first baseman was far more satisfied by his work that week contributing to his team’s 6-1 record via a .533 average, seven home runs, 15 RBIs and a 1.896 OPS, moving the club one stop closer to its first playoff appearance in his seven years with the organization. Hitting the midway point of the 2020 season in Tuesday's series opener against the Pirates, the White Sox would be a playoff team if the season ended today.

“It will be great. I won’t lie to you,” Abreu said of potentially reaching the playoffs, through interpreter Billy Russo. “It will be a dream come true, a result of the hard work we’ve done over the last few years.

“We as a team, as an organization, are in the right direction. We have to work hard, focus on the game, keep improving. That’s the key. Hopefully, we’ll be in the playoffs, and that will be important to me.”

Prior to this amazing run, Abreu had a .250/.298/.443 slash line with four home runs and 13 RBIs. He entered play on Tuesday atop the American League with his 28 RBIs, was tied with Minnesota's Nelson Cruz for the AL home run lead at 11 and featured a .669 slugging and 1.035 OPS.

Abreu’s approach hasn’t changed, including his team-first mantra.

“We have a very good family here,” Abreu said. “We have a very good atmosphere on the team, and one of the most remarkable things is we have a different hero every night.

“One day, it can be Lucas [Giolito]. One day it could be Eloy [Jiménez] or [Luis] Robert or Edwin [Encarnación] or [Yoán] Moncada, Dallas [Keuchel]. That's one of the things that makes this team special.”

Moncada stays in lineup
Manager Rick Renteria promised to give Moncada a few scattered days off at the season’s outset to rest his legs upon returning from a positive COVID-19 test during the intake process. With Moncada performing well in the early going, that idea never materialized as planned.

But Moncada entered Tuesday in a 13-for-67 slump with three home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 17 games, having moved from the second to fifth spot in the lineup.

“Physically, he’s in the lineup,” Renteria said. “He’s doing good. He’s good enough to be in there.”

Renteria couldn’t comment as to whether Moncada is bothered by any lingering after-effects potentially related to COVID-19. But in terms of the third baseman looking a little slow down the line at times, it’s by design.

“We are trying to guard his legs,” Renteria said. “So I can speak to if there’s any question about effort or things of that nature. Everybody has to be mindful that I’m asking him to be very controlled when he’s moving out there. All that being said, I’m glad he’s in the lineup.”

Third to first
• Second baseman , who hit a batting practice home run off the Schaumburg Boomers scoreboard at the team’s alternate training site in Schaumburg, Ill., on Monday, could return to the White Sox this weekend at home against the Royals. Madrigal has been sidelined by a separated left shoulder.

“I know he's coming along very, very well,” Renteria said. “We've got at least a few more days to see him continuing to work. But yeah, we're aware of the work he's putting in down there.”

• The White Sox released right-handed pitcher and left-handed pitcher from their alternate training site. They added 26-year-old infielder Zach Remillard, 24-year-old left-handed pitcher and 26-year-old right-hander to their player pool.

• Renteria could not confirm the signing of second baseman to a Minor League deal, as first reported by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Sánchez played six seasons and 646 games across the infield for the White Sox from 2014-19 before agreeing to a free-agent deal with the Giants at the end of January. He was released on Aug. 21.

He said It
“Since I've been with the White Sox, I've learned there is not a better group of guys to be around. Coaches-wise, staff-wise, players-wise -- everyone has been great to me. ... In that moment, I was glad that somebody picked me up. But now that it's the White Sox, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.” -- Right-hander Jared Kelley, the team’s second-round pick in the 2020 Draft, who is currently working in Schaumburg.