How Jose Abreu is mentoring the White Sox’s future and present – NBC Chicago

How Abreu frames the Sox’s future, as well as the present originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

José Abreu is apparently no longer content to limit his mentoring of young Chicago White Sox players to his current teammates.

In fact, his guiding hand now extends to players who may never be his teammates.

Who knows what the post-2022 future holds for one of the best hitters in franchise history. His current contract is up after this year, and while it’s nearly impossible to see him play for any other team – he said as much and relayed that team president Jerry Reinsdorf agrees – he is just wondering when Abreu, 35, might call her. a career. Of course, it’s also evident that he’s still one of the most productive hitters in the game, just a year away from his reign as American League MVP. Another contract with the White Sox would come as no surprise and would keep the team’s roster anchor right in the middle of the batting order.

RELATED: Sox Céspedes prospect has work to do before talking big league

It’s quite a conversation for next winter, but it’s brought up to illustrate that the paths of Abreu and Yoelqui Céspedes may not cross for long, if at all, on the major league scene.

That didn’t stop Abreu, however, from being Abreu.

The mentorship he has provided to the current generation of young White Sox stars – particularly Yoán Moncada, Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert – is also on offer to prospects.

“Last year, during spring training, José Abreu approached me and he said: ‘Whatever you need, contact me and I’m here for you,'” Céspedes said on Thursday. , speaking through team interpreter Billy Russo of the Sox’s minor league White Minicamp in Arizona. “That’s what I did. Whenever I needed something, I contacted him and he gave me a lot of advice. It was great. It really helped me.

“I’m starting my career here. He’s got all that experience already and he’s a really good baseball player. When you mix that up, it’s great. When you’re a kid and you have your dad, you try to follow and follow what he does, it’s kind of the same here with José and I. I follow him and I see everything he does, and it’s good to have this reference. nice to have that number that you can track.”

Although Céspedes made clear on Thursday his intentions to reach the majors this year, it remains to be seen if that will become a reality. White Sox assistant general manager Chris Getz spoke earlier this week about the kinds of improvements Céspedes will need to make to advance in the minor leagues. Getz pointing out that Céspedes “taste” the Double-A level in 2021 could signal that there is more to accomplish there before moving on to Triple-A, let alone the big leagues.

But despite a lackluster performance in the Arizona Fall League and some less than stellar reviews from prospect-evaluating types, Getz insisted the White Sox were more optimistic than ever about Cespedes’ future. And while that doesn’t mean he’s the immediate answer to questions about the team’s right-field situation, it does point to potential major league contributions that could help keep the White Sox’s window of contention open. in the future.

With that in mind, Abreu continues the work he has done since the darkest days of the team’s rebuilding effort, when he took young players like Moncada, Jiménez and Robert under his wing and nurtured them. enrolled in the José Abreu mentorship program, which essentially teaches young, talented players to work as hard as possible and be awesome hitters. These three may not have needed Abreu’s guidance to fulfill their already exorbitant potential as batsmen, but there’s no doubt his leadership has helped them in countless ways that they won’t be long in coming. to be ecstatic.

Céspedes could be next. He already sounds like a follower of Abreu, after all.

“The biggest advice José Abreu gave me last year was just to work hard and keep working no matter what,” he said. “I agree with that. No matter how good or bad the moment is for you, you have to keep working. I think that applies to all sports, all athletes. You just need to work and keep working hard on the things you need to know and the things that will put you in a good position and make you successful.

“When he told me that, I immediately agreed with him and I applied that. Because in sport or in everyday life, you are going to go through good times or bad times. What will move you forward is that this is where you will find the tools to keep moving forward.

Most fans are probably more concerned that Céspedes will hit like Abreu than sound like him. But as the guy ranked as the best player in the international free agent class last year continues to work on his game, he must also continue to adapt to life in a new country.

Céspedes spoke on Thursday about the difficulties of living in a country whose language he does not know, something he has been working on. He answered a few questions during his English media session, saying he “loves” the language and continues to practice.

But in addition to this enthusiastic attitude to integrate into the United States, he is happy to have reminders of his home. Luckily for him, the White Sox are teeming with Cuban players, and even the just-started minicamp features some notable Cuban prospects in Norge Vera and Yolbert Sánchez. Oscar Colás, the big international name of the team this winter, will join them shortly.

“I feel like home,” said Céspedes, in English. “Because in Cuba, everyone speaks Spanish, and we joke all the time. I feel, at the moment, at home, like Cuba.”

Abreu, of course, is also one of Céspedes’ compatriots, and that’s another thing Abreu can provide as a mentor: comfort.

Abreu’s career with the White Sox could very well last beyond 2022. But it can’t last forever. Biology always has something to say about things. Even still, Abreu takes it upon himself to help shape the future of the White Sox. It’s no surprise coming from the guy who was hailed as a role model for years, the guy who most believed in the team’s bright future during the rebuilding years, a future that is now manifesting in fight for the championship.

Rick Hahn’s plan has always been for this assertion to be tough and tough, and while “last” is currently the White Sox farm system, there are prospects in the minors that could make that goal a reality. Céspedes is one of them. And whether he reaches the South Side in 2022 or later, he gets the same kind of treatment from Abreu that today’s big leaguers get.

And that could help extend that championship window long after Abreu’s statue stands on the outer lobby.

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