He has seen what his predecessors can do, and for that Robin Ventura isn’t too concerned about Jose Abreu’s adjustment to the majors.
The White Sox manager said on a conference call on Tuesday he’s excited to have the services of Abreu, who finalized a six-year, $68-million deal with the team. Though he doesn’t have a ton of familiarity with the 26-year-old slugger beyond scouts’ reports and video, Ventura believes Abreu can make as smooth of a transition as those performed by Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A’s and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yaisel Puig.
Some reports have suggested Abreu may have difficulty making the adjustment from Cuba to the majors. Others believe Abreu’s perceived lack of bat speed on inside pitches might hurt him as well.
“He’s more polished than just a power hitter,” Ventura said. “He’s playing against some pretty good talent. You go by the precedent that has been set by guys that have come over recently — that where he’s playing, and what you’re seeing can translate into the majors leagues. What and how much, that’s up to him and how he produces. ... It’s risky to have any free agent. But you’re going by his age and the future and what you’re willing to go after. He’s going to have an opportunity, and hopefully he’ll be fun to watch.”
Venutra believes the addition of Abreu, who is known for his power and disciplined eye at the plate, along with outfielder Avisail Garcia can help energize an offense that slumped all season in 2013. The team finished last in the American League with 598 runs, its lowest since the 1980 squad scored 587. The White Sox scored three runs or fewer in 82 of 162 games last season, a performance that led to the September dismissal of hitting coach Jeff Manto.
Ventura applauded the work of general manager Rick Hahn for the acquisitions of Abreu, 26, and Garcia, 22, knowing they could man the middle of the order for years to come.
“That was one of things we wanted to address is being able to score runs,” Ventura said. “You get a talent like Avi and going forward a player like Jose, it’s steps in the right direction not only for now but the future, too. You’re getting players at an age when you’re not just seeing them for one year and it’s a stop-gap thing. We’re looking more for helping us now and in the future. I think Rick has done a great job of being able to do that.”