Abreu sees White Sox in postseason next year

August 20th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- It’s all but a mathematical certainty the White Sox will not be part of the 2019 playoffs, making somewhat of a focus on 2020 understandable even with 38 games left to play following Monday’s series opener against the Twins.

That focus centers upon the eventual arrival of top prospects like outfielder Luis Robert, second baseman Nick Madrigal and even first baseman Andrew Vaughn, the team’s top pick in the 2019 Draft. But it also deals in a broader scope with the White Sox possibly becoming contenders in Year 4 of this rebuild.

Count , completing his sixth year at the heart of the White Sox order, as one of those individuals who believes the 2020 postseason could be a reality for the South Siders.

“I truly believe that we are going to be in a good position next year to compete for a playoff spot,” said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. “I know that the front office is going to make the move that will be the right move for us to move forward and to get to that final phase of this process.

“We just need the pitching staff to stay healthy, because if they stay healthy, we can do the rest. We have a very good offensive team. If the pitching staff gives us a chance and all the guys do their job as we all know they can do it, if they can do it in a consistent way, we are going to be one of the best teams next year.”

As for those moves, Abreu stressed the “right moves” over any sort of “splashy moves.” It was a successful philosophy employed by the 2005 White Sox on their way to a World Series championship.

Abreu will be a free agent following the 2019 season, but he spoke again like a player who expects to be with the White Sox beyond this campaign.

“Claro que si,” said a smiling Abreu, which translates from Spanish into “of course.”

“Like I said before, if the team doesn’t sign me, I’m going to sign myself here,” Abreu added.

Moncada remains on rehab

Third baseman , out since Aug. 1 with a right hamstring strain, is scheduled to play nine innings in the field as part of his injury rehab with Triple-A Charlotte on Monday and Tuesday. He’ll have Wednesday off, and if all goes well, Moncada should rejoin the White Sox at home against the Rangers on Thursday.

“He's felt good. He's felt ready to go,” said White Sox manager Rick Renteria of Moncada, who was 4-for-12 with a home run on his injury rehab entering Monday. “If those two games go well, he'll probably get an off-day on Wednesday and then we'll proceed and make a decision.”

Jimenez getting to the heart of hitting

According to Statcast, has seen the lowest percentage of pitches in the heart of the strike zone among 2019 AL hitters with a minimum of 1,000 total pitches seen (138 AL hitters).

Jimenez’s 20.8 percent in that category is followed by Gary Sanchez at 20.9 percent and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at 21.6. Heart is defined as more than one baseball's width inside the strike zone.

“First of all, when he gets a pitch in the zone, he probably puts a pretty good swing on it,” Renteria said. “That also says he’s offering at pitches at times out of the zone, but he’s still doing some damage. As time goes on and you see some development as a hitter, those numbers will kind of change a little bit and you’ll see a lot more of him being attacked in the zone.”

Two extended absences due to injuries have altered Jimenez’s approach for short periods in what still should be considered a successful first season.

“Sometimes I feel really good and I don't chase too many pitches down,” Jimenez said. “But when I got hurt and I tried to come back, my timing was off. I tried to do my best, but it was a little bit hard. Now I feel more comfortable at the plate and I'm chasing less than I was two weeks ago.”

“He’s having a good season. He makes all the adjustments,” Abreu said. “Even though his batting average is not as good as you can expect, he has been hitting the ball much better than what his average says.”

He said it

“When you listen to a guy like him with his experience in sports and all the things he has accomplished, and just the way he expressed all those ideas, all those facts, that makes you feel like you are on the right path. As a team, that was a very very good speech for us.” -- Abreu, on Bill Walton’s pregame speech Friday