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Abreu 'as valuable as anything' to White Sox

Garcia out of lineup vs. Astros; no timetable for Moncada as he continues to progress
@scottmerkin
August 13, 2019

CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu is on pace for his fifth season with at least 25 home runs, 100 RBIs and 30 doubles. He features a .322 average and .904 OPS over 134 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and a team-best 57 RBIs in those situations. It seems to

CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu is on pace for his fifth season with at least 25 home runs, 100 RBIs and 30 doubles. He features a .322 average and .904 OPS over 134 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and a team-best 57 RBIs in those situations.

It seems to be another elite, middle-of-the-order performance the White Sox have come to expect from a healthy Abreu. But the first baseman’s on-base percentage is at a career-low .313 and the funks he’s had in ’19 have been a bit more extended than years past.

Those results aren’t necessarily related to those who are hitting or aren’t hitting around him in the White Sox lineup. It’s more about a player often identified by other teams as the White Sox player that can’t be allowed to beat them.

“Every team has a guy they say, ‘He ain’t going to beat us.’ With us right now, it’s him,” White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson said. “It’s the fact he’s created that around him as a player in this league for 5 1/2 years now.”

“We’ve seen him at times when he wanted to carry us a little more than he probably should,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Everybody has to toe the line. Everybody has to do their part. We’ve all seen him when he’s had a little bit of a tough time and when he’s scaled back and allowed guys to do their job.”

Abreu will be a free agent after the ’19 season, and the White Sox will evaluate how he fits into their prime contention window moving forward. His exceptional clubhouse value has been talked about many times, with Abreu positively influencing young stalwarts such as Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez, but Steverson also considers Abreu a continued threat in the White Sox lineup.

“A solid three hole Major League baseball player, quality at-bats,” Steverson said. “He can get you at any time for a double, homer or single to right. Anything. He’s a multi-faceted hitter, which makes him as valuable to us as anything.

“If he was a guy that I would say walks 75 to 100 times per year, it would be better for him obviously. But he’s never been that guy coming out of Cuba. He’s more of a swinger. We talk about it all the time. That’s probably the biggest difference [this season]. They aren’t pitching to him as much this year and he’s not taking his walks, which he’s never been a high walk guy.”

Injury update

Leury Garcia, the White Sox leadoff hitter and jack of all trades in the field, has been dealing with a bruised right index finger and has not played since Saturday’s contest against Oakland. Renteria said Garcia was available in an emergency if Monday’s game had been played.

Garcia had reached base in 20 straight games entering Tuesday, That streak was tied with Washington’s Trea Turner for the fourth longest active run in the Majors.

Moncada, who went on the injured list retroactive to July 31 with a strained right hamstring, still has no specific timetable for return. The White Sox have no reason to rush their third baseman, who has turned in an All-Star caliber season, waiting for him to be absolutely 100 percent healthy.

“He continues to improve,” Renteria said. “But I really don’t have a window for you today.”

Double duty

Tuesday’s straight doubleheader marked the White Sox fourth twin bill this season and third at home, as well as their first-ever against Houston. The White Sox have another straight doubleheader at home against Detroit scheduled for Sept. 27, which is the final Friday of the regular season.

Even without a doubleheader in their collective history, the White Sox and Astros have played two games on the same day. On Oct. 26, 2005, the White Sox finished off a 7-5, 14-inning victory in Game 3 of the World Series in the early hours, courtesy of a Geoff Blum home run and a Mark Buehrle save, before completing a four-game sweep to a World Series championship with a 1-0 victory in Game 4 behind Freddy Garcia later that evening.

He said It

“The fact that he hasn’t been hot this year and he’s still got what he’s got, you are encouraged with that. I think we’ve all yet to see the best of him and admittedly he would say that himself.” -- Steverson on Eloy Jimenez

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.