As if testimony from fellow Cubans weren’t enough to comfort Jose Abreu, advice from the island’s greatest player probably sealed the deal.
Seated in the front row at Abreu’s introductory press conference on Tuesday morning was none other than former Sox outfielder Minnie Minoso.
Afterward, Abreu strolled onto the grass at U.S. Cellular Field with the “Cuban Comet,” who dispensed words of wisdom gained from more than 50 years as part of the franchise.
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When he suits up next season, Abreu will become the 17th Cuban to play for the White Sox along with teammates Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo. Asked why the franchise has had so much success with Cuban players, Minoso echoed Abreu, who earlier thanked his fellow countrymen for the confidence he has landed in a comfortable spot.
“It’s a good organization,” Minoso said. “The White Sox are one of the great organizations in baseball. Good president, good owner, good employees and the city is beautiful. I think that’s the reason a lot of guys want to be here. When you’re finished, they are not an organization that forgets about you. They never forget it. When you play for this organization, if you give 100 percent, you know you’re not going to be in the street. They’re going to recognize you and give you something to support yourself. … The door’s always open.”
Abreu said he felt welcomed by the White Sox from the moment they began their courtship more than two months ago. Over that period of time, executive vice president Kenny Williams attended a workout in the Dominican Republic and Ramirez, Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza spoke with Abreu about their White Sox experiences. Abreu said the efforts helped play a role in his decision.
“(They) created this atmosphere where I feel comfortable coming here,” Abreu said. “Having spoken with them about the White Sox, about the organization, it makes things easier and made the decision easier. I’m thankful for them for giving me that perspective.”
Minoso, a White Sox Community Relations representative, added his own perspective as the two spoke in front of a scoreboard that displayed multiple “Welcome Jose Abreu” signs.
“It gives me the pleasure to give anybody else good advice on the White Sox,” Minoso said. “What they do for me they’d do for somebody else. This is the way the organization has been for 60 years and it’s going to be until the time I die. … I’m here and here the door is open for you now and however long you stay. That’s a beautiful thing.”
Though he hadn’t been born the last time Minoso, 87, donned a Sox uniform in 1980, Abreu credits him for opening the door for a long line of Cubans to play in the majors.
“The history of Cuban players, going back to Mr. Minoso -- everything the Cuban players have done in the big leagues, it has been an inspiration,” Abreu said.