But the biggest accomplishment for Abreu simply was getting on to the field.
“If I tell you that I'm feeling 100 percent, I would be lying to you,” Abreu said through interpreter Billy Russo during postgame media availability. “The fight today, because [of] the commitment that I have [for] this team, I have to give my best to this team every day.
“It doesn't matter how I feel or how many days I went without playing. It was important [to] me and [to] the team for me to play today.”
Abreu has been out of action since going 0-for-4 in Saturday’s victory over the Tigers. He sat out Sunday’s regular season finale with flu-like symptoms and didn’t travel with the team on Tuesday to Houston because of the illness. He arrived on Wednesday, after testing negative for COVID-19, but was still uncertain as a Game 1 starter.
Manager Tony La Russa had two lineups pregame, with Abreu at designated hitter in one and on the bench in the other. Abreu went through all the pregame drills and through batting practice, feeling good enough to take the field. Then, as he was walking off the field, Abreu tripped over one of the tarps near the batting cage.
He didn’t fall or hurt himself but shook his head as he walked by Russo toward the dugout.
“What he did today is routine, and you almost take it for granted except it would be a terrible mistake to make because his commitment to [this] team and his toughness is as good as it can possibly be by anybody that's ever played the game,” said La Russa, who mentioned that Abreu’s fever did not come back. “Unfortunately, he's had to show that toughness more than he should.”
“It's been difficult,” said Abreu, who credited the White Sox doctors and training staff for getting him ready. “I don't really understand why this is happening, but it's part of life. I have to keep going.”
Gavin Sheets played first base on Thursday and with Houston left-hander Framber Valdez pitching Friday, Andrew Vaughn could move in at first if Abreu needed to DH again. But the seemingly drained White Sox leader, who has gone through being hit by a pitch 22 times this year and who missed only one game after colliding full force with the Royals' Hunter Dozier while chasing an infield popup, was understandably non-committal.
“Right now, I just need to rest and get better,” Abreu said. “As soon as I wake up tomorrow, I will see what we can do.”
“He's got some of the most heart I've ever seen in a baseball player,” White Sox Game 2 starter Lucas Giolito said. “It's such a pleasure to be teammates with him and be able to watch him do what he does.”