After cold start, Abreu starting to heat up

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • After a slow start, White Sox slugger Jose Abreu has been heating up at the plate.

    After a slow start, White Sox slugger Jose Abreu has been heating up at the plate. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/11/2015 9:44 PM

Jose Abreu came out swinging last season and never really slowed down.

En route to being unanimously voted the American League Rookie of the Year, the White Sox' 27-year-old first baseman batted .317 and had 36 home runs and 107 RBI.

 

Having successfully navigated the grind of his first major-league season, Abreu was expected to match or better those impressive numbers in Year 2.

So far, not so good.

Heading into Friday night's game at Tampa Bay, Abreu is batting .283 with 11 homers and 37 RBI.

For most hitters, those are exceptional statistics. For Abreu, they are barely acceptable.

"We all know it's there, and we know he's a good hitter," Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It's going to arrive sooner than later; you just want to see it every night. I think that's just the greedy part of fans and us and everybody else. You want to see a guy do that every night and it's not always that easy."

Abreu's past two nights have been more like it.

In Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Astros, he broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning with a 2-run homer off starter Dallas Keuchel.

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"I don't really want that pitch back," Keuchel said. "I was trying to induce some weak contact and he put a big barrel on it. The guy's a strong guy."

In Wednesday's 4-1 victory over Houston Abreu hit another 2-run homer, off reliever Pat Neshek.

"I've been working with the same things these two days and I can say right now that something has changed just because of the results," Abreu said through a translator. "I feel good. I'm hitting the ball well."

After sweeping the Astros in a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field, the Sox are playing as well as they have all season.

Starters Chris Sale, rookie Carlos Rodon and Jose Quintana pitched a combined 21 innings against Houston and allowed only 2 runs while striking out 22.

Defensively, right fielder Avisail Garcia, left fielder Melky Cabrera and third baseman Gordon Beckham made highlight plays during the series, and closer David Robertson saved all three games.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

At the start of the White Sox' homestand -- last Friday against Detroit -- general manager Rick Hahn said he'd wait another month before deciding whether to trade off pieces. If Abreu and the Sox' hit-or-miss offense start to get it going, Hahn actually might look to add pieces in advance of the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.

As he showed last season, Abreu can almost single-handedly get the White Sox' offense turned around.

"I don't feel that I have a good rhythm right now in my approach in my at-bats," Abreu said. "But you have to fight through it, and I'm fighting through it. I'm working on it. Right now, my main goal is not just to get my usual rhythm. I am always thinking about to help the team, any way I can do it.

"If I can't hit right now like I used to, probably I can make plays on the defense or I can drop in some runs. I am trying to do the little things to help the team win games."

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