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Abreu voted in as AL All-Star starter at first base

First White Sox player selected by fans since Big Frank in 1996
MLB.com @scottmerkin

HOUSTON -- Jose Abreu received All-Star recognition Sunday despite being in the midst of one of the worst individual stretches of his stellar career.

The White Sox heart and soul and top overall player was chosen by fans as the American League's starting first baseman, as announced Sunday night, marking Abreu's second All-Star appearance and first since his AL Rookie of the Year campaign in 2014. Abreu became the first White Sox player to lead at any point in the balloting process since Frank Thomas won the fan election at first base in 1996.

HOUSTON -- Jose Abreu received All-Star recognition Sunday despite being in the midst of one of the worst individual stretches of his stellar career.

The White Sox heart and soul and top overall player was chosen by fans as the American League's starting first baseman, as announced Sunday night, marking Abreu's second All-Star appearance and first since his AL Rookie of the Year campaign in 2014. Abreu became the first White Sox player to lead at any point in the balloting process since Frank Thomas won the fan election at first base in 1996.

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He also became the sixth White Sox player (11th time total) to be elected by the fans to start the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, joining Thomas (1994-96), Carlton Fisk (1981-82), Richie Zisk (1977), Dick Allen (1972-74) and Luis Aparicio (1970). This well-deserved selection still came amid a 28-for-153 slump over his last 40 games, dropping Abreu's average from .319 on May 26 to .259 following his 1-for-4 showing in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Astros.

Abreu smiled broadly when talking about the first starting honor bestowed upon a White Sox player in 22 years.

"It means a lot when you realize all the time that has passed since the last White Sox [player] to start in the All-Star Game or for the fans to vote him into the All-Star Game," said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. "That made this moment even greater.

"Like I've always said, I like to represent this organization. I like to wear these colors. I always do my best to represent this team. It's a really, really big honor. When you receive news like this, it's like a relief. You are maybe living a tough time and you have news like this, it's something that helps you to keep moving forward."

On Tuesday, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.

For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Video: CWS@DET: Abreu homers, collects 3 XBH in 4-hit effort

Along with Abreu's .259 average, he has produced a .763 OPS, 12 home runs, 50 RBIs and 27 doubles this season, with the RBIs and doubles leading AL first basemen. White Sox manager Rick Renteria points to Abreu trying to do too much and shoulder too big of a burden for a rebuilding team sitting at 30-60 overall as part of the extended slump rationale, while also believing Abreu will work past this rough run.

"In the few years that I've been here, he's one of the guys I truly appreciate to the core," Renteria said. "[The All-Star selection] is certainly merited for what he's been able to do."

Other recent AL All-Star starters for the White Sox focus on the pitching side, with Chris Sale starting in 2016, Mark Buehrle in 2005 and Esteban Loaiza in 2003 at home, then back to Thomas at first base. Abreu will be taking his entire family, along with Russo and White Sox pregame instructor Luis Sierra, to Washington, D.C. None of the family's dogs will be making the journey, Abreu added with a laugh.

"It's a huge honor to be voted as a starter for the All-Star Game by the fans. I thank them. I'm glad for all their support," Abreu said. "Thanks to this organization, of course. None of this would happen if it wasn't for the support of this organization or for the opportunity they gave me.

"And my family, of course. They are my strength and support me every time. They are my motivation. I'm glad for all that recognition. It's no secret my numbers right now are not as good as I want them to be or as good as an All-Star player should have.

"I've been working hard during my whole career, including through the last five or six weeks. It hasn't been easy," Abreu said. "When you have recognition like that, it's special. It's something you appreciate."

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

Chicago White Sox, Jose Abreu