Despite loss to Tigers, Abreu thinks White Sox can contend in 2014

Despite loss to Tigers, Abreu thinks White Sox can contend in 2014
July 30, 2014, 9:30 pm
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DETROIT — Jose Abreu doesn’t want to talk about next season.

His focus is still on the 2014 White Sox.

While they didn’t do much to support his belief they’re contenders this season in a 7-2 loss to Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night, Abreu likes the White Sox makeup. Given they’re still in contention for a wild-card spot and could get two key pieces back from the disabled list within a month, Abreu isn’t ready to give up on 2014.

“Where I come from, we don’t like losing,” Abreu said through a translator. “It’s a matter of fact. We don’t like that. The one thing I can tell you is that I feel like we have a good team here. We have some players here that if we continue to ask more of each other, we can win this year.”

If the White Sox are going to win this year, they’ll have to do it with the roster assembled.

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Plagued by inconsistency, the White Sox have done little to persuade the front office that they’re worthy of adding costly pieces that might disrupt future plans. General manager Rick Hahn has said the White Sox don’t take lightly chances to win and the dominant performance of Abreu — who extended his hitting streak to 19 games on Wednesday — has swayed the front office some. But Hahn also doesn’t want to sacrifice the future to win now.

Given the White Sox don’t have a surefire closer, that they have questions at the back end of the starting rotation as evidenced by Hector Noesi’s outing Wednesday (he allowed six first-inning runs), and that they have several key injuries, this probably isn’t the best sales pitch by a club trying to convince the GM to dig into the checkbook or farm system for help.

At the same time, many of the pieces the White Sox are willing to deal aren’t flying off the shelves. Only three scouts have been in attendance for each of the White Sox first two games in Detroit and the rumor mill is nearly at a standstill. Manager Robin Ventura said Wednesday he expects the same team to be intact after Thursday’s 4 p.m. EST nonwaiver trade deadline.

One way the White Sox could add down the road is when they get several key pieces back from injury, including reliever Matt Lindstrom and outfielder Avisail Garcia. Both are headed out on rehab assignment on Friday. Lindstrom could be back by the team’s next road trip while Garcia is more likely later in August.

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“They are good players,” Ventura said. “You get Lindy out there and add to the bullpen and Avi playing, they are good players.

“You get them back and you feel a little more complete as a roster than you do right now.”

Hahn has said the two could give the White Sox a boost if they return to the field. He doesn’t want to rush either, especially Garcia, but isn’t denying they could have an impact if they come back healthy.

“We’ve missed them both throughout this stretch and if and when they return to the active roster, we certainly think it’s going to be a nice shot in the arm,” Hahn said.

The White Sox bullpen could get a similar enhancement from first-rounder Carlos Rodon if he does enough in the minors to earn a promotion to the big leagues.

But even so, the White Sox will need much more than that. This is a team that has never won more than four games in a row and never lost more than five straight. They have had an inability to get out of their own way all season. Whether it’s a lack of production from the bottom of the lineup, poor starts from the back of the rotation or failures in the bullpen, the White Sox haven’t been able to go on a long run all season.

But Abreu said that doesn’t mean they can’t. While he likely sees the same bright future for the White Sox that Hahn and Ventura do, he prefers to think about that only after this season concludes.

“We can talk about next year at some other time,” Abreu said. “I feel like we still have 50-some games here left and we still have a chance to do some things. We have to play together well and ask of each other a little bit more.”