Abreu clear on Sox 2020 mantra: 'It's on us'

July 5th, 2020

CHICAGO -- The White Sox have developed a “Change the Game” mantra for their 2020 team poised to make the move from rebuild to contention in the American League Central.

But , their leader on the field and in the clubhouse, came up with a few more pertinent words in relation to the challenging and uncertain times brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s on us,” said Abreu during a Sunday afternoon Zoom call, through interpreter Billy Russo.

Abreu’s words have meaning across a number of platforms. It’s on the White Sox players to follow the protocol set up by Major League Baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field and just as importantly away from the ballpark on their own during Summer Camp, as reinforced Sunday by the team announcing two White Sox players tested positive for the COVID-19 during the intake process.

With three weeks of Summer Camp leading into the 60-game season, it’s incumbent upon the White Sox players to do the work to be ready for the upcoming 2020 season.

“We have to do the best that we can to start the season in good shape or 100 percent and if it’s not, then just keep working until we get to that point,” Abreu said. “It’s something that we all have to embrace, and we all have to deal with it. We are going to have to roll with it.

“Sixty games is going to be different for us because we have to go every day trying to win every game and there is no room for error. We have to get used to it and do the best that we can to try to take advantage of this situation. This is something we are all facing, and we are all making adjustments to the COVID-19 virus.”

At 33, Abreu is in his seventh season with the White Sox. He has been a solid and frequently elite middle-of-the-order presence, leading the American League with 123 RBIs in 2019, and driving in at least 100 runs and hitting at least 25 home runs in five of his six seasons.

There’s been a strong show of loyalty from Abreu to the White Sox, with Abreu often joking about signing himself back if the team wouldn’t as he approached free agency following the 2019 campaign. The White Sox clearly had the same sort of feel for Abreu, agreeing to a three-year, $50 million contract with the first baseman during the offseason.

That loyalty, along with a discussion among his family, helped Abreu make the decision to play this season.

“I am a very loyal person as you know, and the White Sox have been loyal with me. I had to be loyal with them, especially in this moment,” said Abreu, who made the trip to Chicago without his wife or two sons. “In God's hands, everything is going to be good. That's what we're hoping for. Everything is going to be good, and God is going to protect us. Just do the best that we can in this situation.”

Abreu is ready to help Luis Robert adjust to his first season in the Majors, just as he did for Eloy Jiménez and Yoán Moncada. A palpable buzz built among the White Sox during March in Arizona, and it’s on Chicago to keep that same good vibe going after the 3 1/2-month break.

“Our goals are going to be the same, and our expectations are going to be the same,” Abreu said. “If we keep up with our work and keep doing what we were doing [in Arizona], we are going to be able to do the same in the 60-game season.

“Like I said before, it’s on us. We have to keep our focus and do our work and our job to perform and to do the things we all know we can do and to keep that excitement level that we had through Spring Training. I don’t have any doubt we are going to do it.”