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updated: 7/29/2014 12:31 AM

White Sox second to none at first base

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  • Jose Abreu, at left with shortstop Alexei Ramirez, is carrying on the strong lineage when it comes to White Sox first basemen.

      Jose Abreu, at left with shortstop Alexei Ramirez, is carrying on the strong lineage when it comes to White Sox first basemen.
    Associated Press

 
 

Historically, the White Sox have been known as a franchise successful at throwing the baseball. You won't find many years over the last decade or so that would be considered thin pitching seasons.

Usually, the Sox have excelled in that area. In fact, since 2003, no team in baseball has made more quality starts than they have.

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They're good for 1,029 of them over that time. It's rare that we go into a season with great concern over the pitching staff. More often than not, it's a point of comfort.

But let's a take a moment to acknowledge an area where the Sox may have been even more fortunate: first base.

That's probably obvious now with Frank Thomas' induction into the Hall of Fame, but just think about how good the Sox and their fans have had it in that department over the last quarter of a century. Frank to Paul Konerko to Jose Abreu. That's not terrible.

From his introduction to the American League in 1990, it was immediately clear Big Hurt was going to be an offensive beast, and not until injuries and time took their toll did he ever show otherwise. Leading up to Sunday's ceremonies in Cooperstown, we spent days exhausting the credentials of the best hitter in the history of the franchise, so I'll leave those accolades to every other person who has written or talked about him since his election.

You're already fully aware of how great he was.

So, then there was Konerko coming along just in time to take over first and allow Thomas to slide into the primary designated hitter spot. Konerko, though not the fastest or most agile of athletes, saved his share of errors with a velvet glove in the field.

But, of course, it really wasn't about defense with Konerko as he's arguably the second-best hitter the organization has ever seen and rivals Thomas in many career categories such as home runs and total bases. He also will finish his career as a six-time all-star.

One day, Konerko will have a statue on the U.S. Cellular Field concourse.

Today, there's Abreu, whose entire career is yet to be defined but is off to a marvelous start. His off-season signing already is a success, and he already has made history, both as a rookie and as a player of any tenure.

He's the most exciting offensive player the Sox have had since Thomas, the kind of guy who makes you make sure you're in position to watch him while he's in the box.

It's not very often you get to see one of your team's players deliver a speech at the Hall of Fame. It's also not very often that you'd change the channel mid-speech to see what else was happening.

You might have used that lfashback button on your remote Sunday, though, because while big Frank was giving his emotional address in New York, Abreu was simultaneously putting his team ahead with an RBI double in Minnesota.

The White Sox have been blessed at that corner of the infield for quite some time. And though it's nearly impossible to replace a Hall of Fame-caliber player at any position, the Sox have done just fine.

Better than fine, actually.

• Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter@ChrisRongey and at chrisrongey.com.

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