If you’re anything like me – and I’m a relatively normal guy – you enjoy Major League Baseball. It’s America’s past time for crying out loud. That being said, a Bill Veeck quote comes to mind: “The season starts too early and finishes too late and there are too many games in between.”
I’m sure you’ve at least watched the highlights though, and when you did you probably saw something about New York Yankees rookie sensation Masahiro Tanaka, and with good reason. He hasn’t lost on American soil yet. Most recently, he pitched a shutout AND got a hit in a 4-0 win over the Yankee’s subway series rival, the Mets. I only include that he got a hit because the Mets have not had one pitcher, the entire season, get a hit; I had to find a way to somehow work that incredibly awful stat in.
What you may not have seen is that there is another American League rookie on the Chicago White Sox, a team with the same number of wins as the Yankees, that’s having arguably just as good a debut in his “rookie” MLB season, José Dariel Abreu.
It feels odd calling the 27-year-old Cuban defect a rookie; the guy hit .453 a few years ago in Cuba. I don’t care what league you play in, .453 is something serious. Not many rookies sign six year 68 million dollar contracts either. You get the point: he can play.
Obviously, White Sox faithful (these people definitely exist, I just don’t know any) set the bar relatively high for Abreu after his WBC – that’s World Baseball Classic, for those of you who do indeed have lives outside of sports – performance last year. In Cuba’s six games, he hit a homerun every other game, batted .383 and racked up nine RBI’s.
Basically, he was supposed to be good; he was supposed to be better than good. He raised the bar. Abreu has been 255 pounds, 6’3” of pure stud. He’s leading the league in homeruns (15), second in RBI’s (42) and total bases (103), and fourth in slugging percentage (595). These numbers attributed to his receiving of April’s Rookie AND Player of the Month Awards.
Good news bad news here Chicago fans (again, I’m assuming you’re there): Abreu has been an iron man to this point this season. In fact, he entered today among league leaders in games played at 43. The bad news: that streak did not continue Monday in the final game of the White Sox/Astros series.
Abreu was nursing a minor ankle injury – or at least the general consensus is that is not serious – coming into the game already. The nagging ankle is the reason Abreu has recently been at DH as opposed to first base. After a broken bat fly out in the fifth inning, leaving Abreu hitless for the series, his day was over, as was his weekend. He is now on the 15-day DL.
Losing Abreu, who some have flirted with as even an early MVP candidate, comes as pretty bad news to an improving White Sox team getting ready to enter the dog days of summer. He, apparently and unexpectedly, is handling the situation pretty well.
From his locker after the White Sox meltdown against the AL worst Astros he said, “The most important thing is that I get to be healthy. If I have to sit a day, so be it. With God’s favor, we’ll do whatever is best.”
Granted, there is upwards of a thousand games left this season, the AL Central is incredibly wide open and losing Abreu and losing to the Astros in the same day is a bad day. Luckily, they were able to secure a win on Monday night even without their rookie star.
The situation could shake down a number of different ways, but hopefully for the White Sox, baseball, and Jose Abreu, this is just a few days off that Abreu will rest while watching Paul Konerko or Adam Dunn get some love.
One thing is for sure: Abreu’s mother wanted him to wear a number that would stick out so that people would take note of her son (he wears 79), and with the rookie campaign Abreu has been putting together, I think people will remember José for some time.