GLENDALE, Ariz. — The first thing Kendall Graveman did upon arriving at Chicago White Sox camp this week was apologize to Jose Abreu.
“I didn’t mean to hit him. I know Tony (La Russa) gave me some help on this,” Graveman said Wednesday.
It was the eighth inning of Game 4 of the American League Division Series. In that October game, Graveman was pitching for the Houston Astros, who held a 7-1 lead over the White Sox, and he hit Abreu with a full-count pitch.
Eventually Houston won the series.
Abreu advanced to first base, without major incident, but La Russa, the White Sox manager, came from the dugout and argued for several minutes with home plate umpire Vic Carapazza, convinced that the hit had been intentional, whether it was by Graveman’s decision or by orders of Houston manager Dusty Baker.
“I apologized to Tony, I told him I didn’t mean to do it. He told me: ‘Now I realize that, but at the time I didn’t know,'” said Graveman, who was relieved by the conversation with La Russa.
“It was a good way to cool this down.”
Now, both sides have joined forces. Graveman signed a three-year, $24 million deal with Chicago just before the lockout that broke out last fall. He enjoyed a breakout season in 2021, posting a 1.77 ERA and 10 saves for the Astros and Seattle Mariners.
He was a starter in his first four seasons with Oakland, before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
He now considers himself a reliever, joining an impressive bullpen that includes closer Liam Hendricks, Craig Kimbrel, Jose Kelly and lefties Aaron Bummer and Garrett Crochet.
What was Abreu’s reaction to Graveman’s apology?
“He laughed,” the pitcher said. “He said, ‘I knew you didn’t want to do it.'”
It was not the only blow that Abreu suffered the previous season. He had to deal with constant minor injuries and a terrifying collision with Kansas City’s Ryan Dozier that ruled him out of a game.
Also, an umpire threw a bat that accidentally hit Abreu in the knee. And the Cuban aggressively lunged toward the plate on a wild pitch, resulting in an ankle injury that cost him three games.
In the 2020 campaign, Abreu won the Most Valuable Player award, slugging .617. Although he didn’t shine as much in 2021, he appeared in 152 games, hitting 30 home runs and driving in 117 runs.
In five of seven full seasons, he has hit at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs.
He was second in the league in RBIs, four fewer than Royals’ Venezuelan catcher Salvador Pérez. He had led the AL in that category the previous two years.
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Graveman apologizes to Abreu for hit