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Abreu returns to White Sox after testimony

MLB.com @scottmerkin

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Abreu returned to Arizona on Friday after two days of testimony in Miami as part of a trial against sports agent Bartolo Hernandez and Julie Estrada, his former trainer and friend. Estrada and Hernandez are charged with conspiracy and smuggling players out of Cuba.

Abreu smiled and seemed upbeat throughout his media session Friday, clearly ecstatic to return to baseball and the White Sox starting lineup Friday against the Padres.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Abreu returned to Arizona on Friday after two days of testimony in Miami as part of a trial against sports agent Bartolo Hernandez and Julie Estrada, his former trainer and friend. Estrada and Hernandez are charged with conspiracy and smuggling players out of Cuba.

Abreu smiled and seemed upbeat throughout his media session Friday, clearly ecstatic to return to baseball and the White Sox starting lineup Friday against the Padres.

"Right now, I'm just very glad to be here and that all the process, all of those problems, are behind me," Abreu said through interpreter Billy Russo. "I feel bad [about leaving] the team, my teammates and the staff. That's what's my mind is on right now."

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Abreu didn't address specific details of his testimony, but he gave an inspirational answer when asked if he hoped the process changed for future Cuban players to find an easier path in coming to the United States.

"I just hope the new kids who have this dream to play in the Majors, they don't have to pass through the whole journey that I had to pass," Abreu said. "I'm just glad to be here. I'm very thankful for the way that this country has welcomed me. The people who live in this country have been very good with me, and I'm thankful for all the support and help."

"Ever since he's been here, Jose has shown in terms of his character what a priority his family is to him and how important his family is," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "In the process of getting here, he showed the amount of sacrifice he was willing to take to give his family a better life."

The weight of this impending trial, not to mention dealing with getting his young son, Dariel, a travel visa to come to the United States, could have affected Abreu's play at the start of last season. He finished with a familiar looking stat line of a .293 average, 25 homers and 100 RBIs.

"It was very difficult to see what happened last season. But I'm just glad all that is behind me," Abreu said. "I'm glad to be here, glad to be with the White Sox.

"This is a great organization to be in. They've helped me a lot and all the guys, I have all my family here. The only member of my family that is not here is my son. But I hope that I can be with him soon again. I'm just glad to be back and for all the things that are happening in my life."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Jose Abreu