Though apart, Abreu and son have close bond
White Sox slugger connects often with Dariel, 5, who remains in Cuba
CHICAGO -- There's almost always a moment in Jose Abreu's daily phone conversations with his 5-year-old son, Dariel Eduardo, where Dariel adopts the same mindset as the White Sox fan base.
"The one thing he always asks me is to give a home run, to hit a home run," said a smiling Abreu through interpreter and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo. "He says, 'Papi, hit a home run for me and give me one car.'"
White Sox fans would probably trade the car request, as in toy cars such as Lightning McQueen, for a second and third home run or four RBIs in a game. But for a young boy living in Cuba and separated from his father, that long ball power emerges as the extent of his baseball understanding at this point.
Abreu calls fatherhood a blessing from God, adding that the three years he spent with his son was "awesome," he feels specially connected and that he always has to take care of him. But there's also a void in Abreu's life, stemming from Abreu's decision to play professional baseball for the White Sox in the United States while needing to leave his son behind in Cuba.
"It was a decision to try to find a best future for him: Of course for my family all around, but especially for him," Abreu said. "It has been very, very difficult for me.
"I'm a very family-oriented person and not just with my mom and my dad and with my family, but with my kid of course. He's an extension of me. I have struggled some times because I miss him. But now I can give him the things that when I was there, I couldn't give him."
Abreu admitted that his first weeks and months away were difficult because his relationship with Dariel's mom wasn't the best. Now, they have a very good relationship and she is even in contact with Abreu's wife and his mom, who are both with him in the United States.
"That's good for my son right now," Abreu said. "We are not together but we are happy with our situation."
Dariel lives with his mom in Abreu's house from the time when he was a standout player for Cienfuegos in Cuba. Baseball is not exactly his son's present focus, as when one of Abreu's friends in Cuba compiled a highlight reel of a recent week's actions, Dariel didn't have a great deal of interest.
"I don't think he's going to be a baseball player," a smiling Abreu said. "I think he's going to be a car mechanic. The most important thing for me is that he can be in good health and the best person possible and grow up like a good person."
A main hope for Abreu is that Dariel soon will be growing up with him in Chicago, and then Florida in the offseason. Just talking with Dariel invigorates Abreu, so having him in person would be that gift from God relived.
"We are working on it, and I think that we are going to be together soon," Abreu said. "Once I get my papers for the citizenship, I will be able to claim him and then we are going to be together again.
"Sometimes when I saw [Adam] LaRoche with his son, Drake, I feel jealous in a good way. I know that every father wants to be with his son, especially in this environment. I hope that sooner than later you could be talking with him here in Spanish and he'll be here with me."