ST. PETERSBURG -- He knows there's a long season ahead, but White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu has set a high standard for his club in the chase to improve on a standout start.
"You have to work every day with the mindset that you can be perfect," Abreu said through a translator. "With that mindset, you can reach your goals. For us, it's an everyday effort. You have to work every day in all the aspects of the game -- offense, defense, pitching. Every day, in each one of those areas, you need to be perfect. You have to have that kind of mentality that you are able to be perfect, that you can be perfect."
Abreu's ambition isn't misplaced, given that the White Sox entered Friday night's 1-0 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field with a 7-2 record, their best nine-game start since 1982, when they were 8-1. The White Sox posted a 6-1 mark away from U.S. Cellular Field after completing a three-game sweep of the Twins on Thursday.
Manager Robin Ventura sees plenty that encourages him, including ample veteran perspective throughout the clubhouse. He knows developing consistency will be key.
"We're a bit different than we were the last couple years," Ventura said. "We're older. We have guys who have been around a little bit, so they seem to hit that off right away, and they can sense that.
"I think that has been the best part -- they're professional about how they go about their work, and you trust them to do that. ... You're just happy for the start, and in Spring Training, you don't really know what you're going to get. But you look at how they're playing, and they're excited about winning close games. And I think that, emotionally, helps out as far as just the focus and the consistency."
Pitching consistency has been a major factor in the White Sox rise. Entering Friday's matchup with the Rays, the White Sox led the American League with a 2.25 ERA, the lowest for Chicago through nine games since 1972, when the staff posted a 1.20 ERA. The White Sox have allowed three runs or fewer in seven of their first nine contests.
Still, there's room to develop offensively. Chicago was tied for 17th in the Major Leagues with 34 runs through nine games.
Abreu has enjoyed the early success and positive feelings flowing throughout the White Sox clubhouse. The quest to achieve more will continue.
"You feel happy," Abreu said. "You feel happy because all the effort you put into preparation is showing up in the beginning of the season. But I think it's something you have to keep doing. … It's such a short time to measure [so far]. But I think we have all the elements to keep doing it. I think we have a very good team."