GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Now that he has established himself as a big league star, Jose Abreu faces greater expectations.
He hit .317 with 36 homers and 107 RBIs last year for the Chicago White Sox and led the American League with a .581 slugging percent. He was picked for the All-Star Game and was a unanimous selection as AL Rookie of the Year.
”I cannot say that I will put up the same numbers or better,” Abreu said Monday through an interpreter. ”I will try to do the best every day to help the team win games. With that, if the numbers are the same as last year, that is good for me.”
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The Cuban first baseman, who turned 28 last month, signed a $68 million, six-year deal with the White Sox in October 2013. He joined the ranks of baseball’s top hitters.
”I don’t like to talk about myself,” Abreu said. ”Everybody knows Miguel (Cabrera), Victor Martinez, and if the people want to put in that same level as them, that is something I can’t say.”
Abreu’s favorite moment of 2014 was when his mother arrived in the U.S. He had to adjust to a season far longer than the 90 games he was used to in Cuba.
”After last season, I relaxed,” he said. ”I just want to keep my weight down. I came in fresh because I know I have to save my energy for the long season.”
Adam LaRoche, who hit 26 home runs for Washington, figures to share first base and designated hitter duties with Abreu, replacing the retired Paul Konerko in that role. Manager Robin Ventura hasn’t said who will play the field more often.
”LaRoche is an outstanding player, and all people say that he’s a good person,” Abreu said. ”My main goal is to play every day, first base or wherever Robin decides I can help the team. Be healthy and be ready to play every day.”
General manager Rick Hahn also added Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson and Melky Cabrera during the offseason.
”It was outstanding. I want to express my respect for the front office. They give us the opportunity to be better this year,” Abreu said. ”The key is to be together, play hard. I think we can compete with the best teams of the league.”