Ventura: Jose Abreu will only get better with experience

Ventura: Jose Abreu will only get better with experience
August 4, 2014, 6:30 pm
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He won’t hit .500 but Jose Abreu still has room for growth, his manager said Monday.

Considering Abreu -- whose 21-game hitting streak ended Saturday -- is the first rookie in major league history to win the player of the month award twice, that’s enough to have opposing pitchers cowering. Abreu was named the American League player of the month for July. He also was named the AL rookie of the month for the third time this season.

Though Abreu hit .374 with 11 doubles, six home runs and 19 RBIs -- he also had a .432 on-base percentage and .667 slugging percentage -- in July, White Sox manager Robin Ventura thinks he’ll continue to improve with experience. But don’t overlook what Abreu is doing now, Ventura said.

“His numbers are pretty damn good right now,” Ventura said. “The consistency of going through the year. He might not have a stretch where he struggles quite as much. There is a limit of what guys are going to hit statistically. But within the game of driving in runs and things like that he’s pretty good and he’s going to continue to get better in that in-game stuff. That’s just part of being in the big leagues for the experience of it.”

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This is Abreu’s second time around the league. This is when it was supposed to get tougher as pitchers started to adjust and figure out ways how to get the first baseman out.

But that hasn’t been the case.

Since returning from the All-Star break, Abreu has reduced his rate of strikeouts from once very 4.28 plate appearances to 5.38.

“Every day I feel more comfortable,” Abreu said through the team’s manager of cultural development, Lino Diaz. “And I’m able to concentrate a lot better, which allows to continue to compete for the team, which is what we’re here for.

“I definitely give credit to being more patient at the plate, swinging at better pitches and having a plan.”

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Ventura has noticed how Abreu tried to less and worked instead with what pitchers have given him. Based off Abreu’s mature approach, Ventura thought this would be a possibility back in spring as the slugger took the next step.

What has resulted is Abreu’s best month of the season -- his 1.099 OPS was 67 points higher than in June.

“He hasn’t had too many at-bats of going after stuff going out of the zone,” Ventura said. “Early he was swinging pretty good and then he went through a period of trying to do too much hitting too many homers and swinging at a lot of pitches. If you look at his at-bats over the last month he’s been pretty spot on with the majority.”

Which leads back to Ventura’s original point, that Abreu -- who had hits in 39 of 40 games through Friday -- is likely only going to get better. Perhaps he won’t be driving in a ton more runs or hitting more homers. But he does believe Abreu’s few dry spells won’t last as long.

“You’re just going to get better,” Ventura said. “Statistically I don’t know what that’s going to be. He’s a guy who is getting better and smarter about what they’re doing to him as it goes along.”