Abreu to report late after positive COVID test

February 25th, 2021

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- José Abreu, the reigning American League Most Valuable Player, will remain away from the White Sox for the next several days in compliance with MLB intake protocols due to a positive COVID test. This news comes from general manager Rick Hahn in a statement released by the team Wednesday morning.

Abreu is said to be completely asymptomatic and believes he contracted a mild case of the disease in January, which is reinforced by the presence of COVID antibodies in additional testing, per Hahn’s statement.

“Other than being frustrated, José feels great,” Hahn said in the statement. “And like the rest of us, [he] is looking forward to when he rejoins the club in the not-too-distant future.”

“I talked to him yesterday morning, and I commented that I heard growling, which I now realize was him, like a lion in the cage,” said White Sox manager Tony La Russa of Abreu during his Wednesday Zoom. “He's raring to go.”

“He's a big piece of this team and we obviously miss him,” White Sox center fielder Luis Robert said. “I've been talking with him. He's feeling good and hopefully he can be with us sooner rather than later.”

The star first baseman is in his eighth season with the White Sox and is one of the true team leaders, both on and off the field. Over 60 games in 2020, Abreu batted .317/.370/.617 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs. He has topped the AL in RBIs in each of the last two seasons.

La Russa mentioned Friday or Monday as a potential return for Abreu, with White Sox Cactus League action beginning Sunday at Camelback Ranch against the Brewers. Even if Monday is the date, Abreu still has one month to get ready for the 2021 opener in Anaheim on April 1.

“He's got to take care of himself on the health front first, and our team also needs him to take care of himself,” La Russa said. “The good fortune, if there is a good fortune, is it's at the beginning of the camp. And he's going to be so anxious to go to work, we're going to have to tie a rope around him.

“I'll say this: When he walks in the door, it's going to be a huge moment for the 2021 White Sox, because the guys can't wait to see him, and he can't wait to see them. He's impatient, which he's supposed to be. But I told him there's time to get him ready.”

Bummer misses camp start for good reason
Aaron Bummer missed the start of White Sox camp but had the ultimate excused absence. The left-handed reliever and his wife, Amber, celebrated the birth of their first child, a daughter.

“It’s awesome,” said Bummer of becoming a parent. “I never really understood the concept of my parents telling me how you’ll never know how much I love you, and just in the first couple of days spending with our daughter, I understand that feeling. It’s awesome to be able to share with the other fathers out here, and it’s just awesome now to be able to kind of get out and get back to work.”

Knowing his daughter’s delivery date was set near the start of Spring Training, Bummer came to Arizona in the middle of January and worked out a specific routine with the training staff, pitching coach Ethan Katz, assistant pitching coach Curt Hasler and La Russa to compensate for his late official arrival.

“Throw a bullpen, go through a normal routine to see where I’m at with everything,” said Bummer of his January work. “And just kind of go from there, kind of be able to build a basis from the middle of January to build a six-week plan moving forward to get me ready to stay on track. So overall, I feel amazing.

“Everything feels good. I feel pretty confident with where I’m at, that I’m not behind and I’m really right where I want to be.”

Third to first
• Gavin Sheets homered off Reynaldo López during live batting practice on Wednesday, earning further plaudits from La Russa.

“The young man’s got real talent,” La Russa said. “He's a very smart, high-IQ kind of guy. So I'd like to be his agent.”

Larry Sheets, who is Gavin’s father, played for the Orioles when La Russa was managing the White Sox and the A’s.

• López, Carlos Rodón, Tyler Johnson, José Ruiz, Zack Burdi and Matt Foster threw live BPs Wednesday. Johnson struck out Tim Anderson and Yoán Moncada.

• La Russa wouldn’t commit to his Cactus League opening pitcher or lineup, although he did mention Anderson as the team’s leadoff hitter. La Russa added the Cactus League Game 1 layout will be discussed more in the next day.

He said it
“He made a comment about potentially being in the bullpen with us and he goes, ‘Man, I don’t know what I’m going to do out there without the routine.’ I go, ‘You are going to figure it out really quickly.’ It is a little bit different, but at the end of the day, it’s just going out there and doing your job and getting outs.” -- Bummer, on a Wednesday conversation with Michael Kopech and his change of role in ‘21