White Sox making progress while Royals stuck in reverse

CHICAGO — Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu has made it clear that he wants to remain exactly where he is.

While Abreu will make the start for the American League at first base at next week’s All-Star Game, the selection hasn’t overshadowed his disappointment in how he has performed of late. After going 0-for-8 in his previous two games, Abreu homered in Chicago’s 9-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals Friday night.

And as the first half winds down starting with Saturday’s matinee against the Kansas City Royals, Abreu hopes to continue to build some momentum toward what he is hoping will be a much productive second half.

Abreu, who played for a struggling team in Cuba before joining the White Sox, insists that his current team’s inability to win on a consistent basis during a multi-year rebuild hasn’t taken a toll on him personally.

“(Losing) hasn’t affected me at all,” Abreu told the Chicago Tribune. “I always compare this process to my time in Cuba. My first years in Cuba, the team wasn’t good and we passed through a process like this. By the end of my time there we were winning, and I think that’s the process here. I embrace this process.”

White Sox manager Rick Renteria sat another slugger on Friday when he kept Matt Davidson out of the lineup despite Davidson traditionally hitting well against Kansas City. Davidson has just 10 hits in his last 63 at-bats, which prompted Renteria to give Davidson the night off despite hitting .462 with seven homers and 12 RBIs in seven games against Kansas City.

“(Davidson) was swinging the bat well at that particular time,” Renteria said Friday. “Right now he seems to be in a little bit of a tailspin, which we want to help him get out of. … It has more to do with giving him a chance to step back and work.”

The White Sox are aiming for their third straight win. Reynaldo Lopez (4-6, 3.77 ERA) will start for Chicago and will be looking for his third victory in his past four outings. The 24-year-old right-hander had won back-to-back starts before he allowed three runs and six hits in just 4 2/3 innings last week against the Houston Astros.

Lopez is 2-0 with a 3.28 ERA in four career starts against the Royals. In his only start against them this year, Lopez gave up 10 hits and four runs (two earned) over 6 1/3 innings but did not get a decision in Chicago’s 7-4 victory on April 27.

The Royals, meanwhile, will try to break out of their recent skid. Friday’s loss was Kansas City’s 12th in their last 13 games. Kansas City fell behind early Friday and rallied to get to within a run the eighth inning before the White Sox responded with a pair of runs in the home half of the eighth.

Danny Duffy (4-8, 4.89) will start for Kansas City on Saturday. He is coming off a solid outing in which he threw six scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twins on Monday. Duffy scattered six and struck out nine in a difficult no-decision as manager Ned Yost blamed his team’s struggle to score runs for ruining Duffy’s effort.

Duffy is 7-6 with a 4.55 ERA in 22 career appearances, including 20 starts, against the White Sox. He has started two games against Chicago this year, taking a loss on March 29 when he gave up five earned runs in four innings, and getting no decision while allowing four runs in six innings on April 27.

He will attempt to build off his strong outing in his last start when he showed marked improvement after Duffy’s ERA ballooned to 5.19 earlier this season. He hopes he is starting to turn things around.

“I think I’ve figured out quite a bit over the last two starts,” Duffy told the Kansas City Star.