CHICAGO -- White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu doesn't plan to make any alterations to his workout regimen this offseason. But hitting-wise, Abreu will be making some changes, as he plans to work with Marcos Hernandez, his hitting instructor in Cuba from when he was 18 and during three seasons
CHICAGO -- White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu doesn't plan to make any alterations to his workout regimen this offseason. But hitting-wise, Abreu will be making some changes, as he plans to work with Marcos Hernandez, his hitting instructor in Cuba from when he was 18 and during three seasons with Serie Nacional in Cuba.
"We have been working on and off since 2016 here in the U.S., but nothing formal," said Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo, during a conference call to discuss winning his second career Silver Slugger Award. "He's a guy that knows a lot about my hitting, my offense. He's going to be a big help. You want to be around people who care about you and people that can help you to improve. He's one of those guys.
"It's going to be very good for me. I have a lot of confidence in him. There's a trust there that works very well. That's the best way for me to approach next season, because I want to start the season very good, not like last season when I started slow. I want to start the season as well as I can, and I want to get to Spring Training in very good condition."
Hernandez helped Abreu last season coming out of his first All-Star Game start, when the proud veteran had watched his average drop from .319 on May 26 to .250 on July 22. Abreu enjoys working with White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson and assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks, but Hernandez has greater history with Abreu.
"Our main focus is going to be to try to stay more in the strike zone, try to be more accurate directly to the ball," Abreu said. "That was an area I struggled with and it was very tough for me to get to that point.
"Sometimes in life, you are going to meet people that know you better than yourself. He's one of those guys for me, especially with offense."
Abreu hit .265 with 22 home runs, 78 RBIs and a .798 OPS in 2018, which all were career lows. He also missed all but six games in September because of emergency surgery correcting testicular torsion and an infection in his right thigh. Due to these trying times, Abreu admitted to crying upon hearing the Silver Slugger news, because it was not expected.
"People know how hard I worked day in and day out," Abreu said. "I think this was a reward for all the work and effort, even though I didn't have my best season this year. It's rewarding."
The 2019 campaign is the sixth and final season on Abreu's current contract with the White Sox. But the 31-year-old wants to stay with the organization for a long time and be part of the rebuild's winning side.
"But that's not in my hands right now," Abreu said. "In case next season is my last, I would like to thank the White Sox organization and all the people who have been around me. Especially the owner [Jerry Reinsdorf], he's been an outstanding person to me.
"I try not to think about that because I truly believe I am going to be part of this organization for a very long time. But we'll see. I know this is a business, and that is the way you have to approach it."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.