CHICAGO – During the 2019 season, as Cuban José Abreu approached free agency, the first baseman spoke about the possibility of re-signing with the White Sox if the club made him an offer.
Abreu was excited about the talent development and the bright future he saw in the organization. The White Sox and Abreu ended up agreeing to a three-year, $ 50 million contract extension. But now, with that final year on the horizon, after seeing his 2021 campaign ended on Tuesday, Abreu didn’t show as much optimism as he did last time.
“I don’t know,” Abreu said. “That whatever has to happen. I’m just going to enjoy the season and try to do my best, as I always do. Representing the White Sox, as I have always done.
“That is the only thing I can do now. My plan is that, enjoy the season and see what happens ”.
Don’t take the Cienfuegos native’s comments as a sign of not wanting to continue with a White Sox team that is beginning to see its first years of competitiveness. It was probably all because of the fatigue and disappointment of being eliminated by the Astros in the American League Division Series after being crowned in the LA Central Division.
2021 was difficult for Abreu. He tested positive for COVID-19 early in the camps and dealt with the effects of a severe clash he had with Hunter Dozier in the opener of a doubleheader on May 14. The gunner then suffered an ankle injury on May 16 after a slide to score the winning run.
In addition, he was dealing with flu symptoms from the last Saturday of the regular season until the first game of the playoffs.
It was not easy for Abreu. However, he managed to finish with averages of .261 / .351 / .481 in 152 games, with 30 homers and 117 RBIs, marking the fifth season of eight totals in which he reached those numbers.
“It was the most difficult year of my career, with all the things I had to overcome,” Abreu confessed. “I’m happy that in the end, everything was fine. I’m going to rest and get ready to improve for the next season, as I always do ”.
Opposing pitchers hit Abreu 22 times in the regular season and in the postseason he received two more balls against Houston. The last was in the elimination game, against reliever Kendall Graveman, who hit the Cuban with two outs and no one on base, after Venezuelan José Altuve received a pitch earlier in the game.
Chicago manager Tony La Russa showed his discontent after the game, saying Abreu was intentionally beaten. Abreu spoke about the situation on Wednesday and said he appreciated La Russa’s support.
“It was a natural reaction, something similar to what a father would have done if something happened to his son,” Abreu said. “Tony was trying to protect me. He always does it with all of us ”.
The 2020 White Sox were eliminated in the LA Wildcard Series in Oakland in three games, under manager Rick Renteria. They reached the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in franchise history in 2021 and played their first home game in the playoffs since 2008, with La Russa at the helmsman position.
Abreu hopes that La Russa will be in command of the team again in 2022, adding that “he will not leave us alone. He will do this together with everyone ”. The Cuban also anticipates that the young and talented Chicago team will continue to improve after a disappointing end to the season.
“We try to control our expectations day after day, game by game. I think we had a good season, ”Abreu said. “Sure, the ending wasn’t what we all expected, but we did the best we could.
“We are facing a great team with a lot of talent. They were just better than us. But I don’t think we should say it was a bad season. She was good. I am happy and happy with the effort and work that each one of us did to have the campaign we had ”.