Abreu named AL Player, Rookie of the Month
White Sox first baseman only the eighth player to win awards in same month
CHICAGO -- Since Jose Abreu and the White Sox agreed upon a six-year, $68 million deal, general manager Rick Hahn has preached patience with Abreu's Major League development and results.
Abreu just might be the most accomplished hitter to come out of Cuba, but Hahn pointed out that there were going to be numerous times where Abreu would falter and his body of work should be studied over the contract's length and not in short bursts.
After Abreu was named American League Player and Rookie of the Month for March/April on Monday, Hahn might have to amend his thoughts.
"I really should just take all that back and after one month, let's just say it was a great deal," said Hahn with a smile.
"In all seriousness, there's going to be some inevitable setbacks. There will be some adjustments," Hahn said. "We've seen him go through one slump and one mini-slump after that. It's a great testament to him and how hard he has worked and how quickly he has been able to make the adjustment to the league and a new clubhouse and a new culture. Very impressive to watch."
Abreu became the first AL player to receive both honors in his first month in the Major Leagues. The 27-year-old hit .270 with eight doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 32 RBIs, 20 runs scored and nine walks over 29 games in March/April.
He topped the Major Leagues in home runs, RBIs, total bases (32) and extra-base hits (19), ranked fifth in slugging percentage (.617), tied for seventh in multi-hit games (11) and tied for 10th in runs scored (20). His homers, RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases set Major League rookie records through April, and his 32 RBIs tied Joe DiMaggio (1936), Ted Williams (1939) and Albert Pujols (2001) for the third-highest RBI total in Major League history by a player in his first 29 career games, per Elias.
Through all the success, through Abreu's walk-off grand slam against Grant Balfour and his back-to-back days with home runs to center at spacious Comerica Park, Abreu's humble demeanor hasn't changed.
"Obviously, it's something that makes me happy," said Abreu through interpreter and White Sox manager of cultural development Lino Diaz. "And I'm thanking my teammates as well. It's a great thing. I'm very humbled to get that honor.
"This is all a part of it. It's part of what you expect when you are in baseball. It's a part of baseball. It's a source of pride for somebody to be able to do that. Again, I have to say, thank God for it."
Magglio Ordonez was the last White Sox placer to be named AL Player of the Month in July 2003, and Gordon Beckham was the last Rookie of the Month in July 2009. Abreu's honor marks the 17th time a White Sox player has been Player of the Month and the fourth to win rookie honors.
Yasiel Puig stands as the only other player to win Player of the Month during his first month in the Majors.
"I don't see it as a competition. I see it has, 'Hey, he's doing his job and I'm doing mine,'" said Abreu of his countryman and former teammate. "That's what every player wants to do."
"He's a good player right now," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Abreu. "For the future, you're always hesitant to say he can get so much better because he's got off to such a great start. But there's things he's going to learn that are going to make him better."
Ventura pointed to Abreu learning situations where opposing teams are trying to pitch around him, while hitting coach Todd Steverson talked about Abreu staying within the strike zone. Ventura, Steverson and Hahn have been highly impressed by Abreu's first 32 games, and quite possibly the highest award Abreu has received is the respect and praise from his teammates.
"I'm just glad he's on our team and I don't have to make adjustments on him," starting pitcher Chris Sale said. "His game is about making adjustments and making adjustments on the fly, and he's been unbelievable."
"What he's done in the first month and some change has never been done," designated hitter Adam Dunn said. "That speaks for itself. This game's been around for a long time, there's been a lot really great players and for none of them to do what he's done, that's a pretty good honor."