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Happiness and numbers, this Cuban exercises his leadership in the Major Leagues without fanfare or controversy


JOSE ABREU training during the winter in Miami.

Every time José Abreu repeated that his wish was to return to the White Sox, a baseball agent told me that “Pito” was crazy. In his way of seeing life, the Cuban player was giving the team money by revealing his intentions to remain without testing the waters of the market.

But there are things that money does not bring happiness. And I do not want unhealthy jokes here, because Abreu signed, after all, a good contract with the whitelegs that guarantees his financial stability for a long time. In his case, the issue of money goes elsewhere.

The topic of inner joy goes hand in hand with his feelings of loyalty, his notion of gratitude to the franchise that believed in him from day one and the only one he has known since he set foot in the majors. Abreu is like that on and off the field.

Quiet, without fanfare or controversy, like a worker who gets up every day to do his job without looking to the side and without asking for artificial awards or external reflectors, Abreu feels happy in Chicago. Perhaps in Boston he would have made a few million more or in New York, but his heart would not be in that state of grace that comes from finding a home, from feeling loved.

Of course, we are talking about a two-way street and Abreu has paid and is paying – who knows if by delivering something more – every last penny that the White Sox invest in his salary. Its production has been stable, profuse and necessary. A number of home runs and RBIs are expected from him that always end up there in their individual lockers.

The last sample button says it all: six home runs in three games and four of them in a row to tie a Major League record. The press, the great national press, has descended on Abreu as if it were a discovery.

When he got to the first game on Friday, Abreu was 20th in homers on the young circuit. By Sunday he was the leader in the American League in whole backs (11) and RBIs (28). But what’s really impressive is his 2,726 OPS in three games, something that hasn’t happened since June 2018. Only six players have reached 3,000 OPS in three games.

The weekend has been spectacular for Abreu, but this Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and every day he will continue to work in silence, training without noise and without doing the least to attract attention. Not for fun, his manager Rick Renteria calls him one of the most “underrated” guys in Chicago.

“It shouldn’t be,” emphasized Renteria, who has marveled at the Cienfuegos work ethic since he arrived at the helm of the White Sox. “He has earned it. He has earned everything he has. We are happy with the way he behaves and hopefully he will be recognized. ”

That recognition thing is not an issue that unhinges first base. If they applaud you well, if not, it’s fine anyway. Neither screams nor flames, but his prime example in the clubhouse. It is about calm, clean leadership. When time passes and Luis Robert Moirán and Yoan Moncada contemplate their advanced and fruitful careers – we hope – they will recognize the benevolent and fruitful influence of an Abreu.

And when Abreu beholds hers at the end of the road – and hopefully that’s still a long way off – he shouldn’t be quietly and isolated proud of it, as he usually does now. Behind him there should be a deafening roar of approval from all of Chicago and the rest of baseball.

Jorge Ebro is a prominent journalist with more than 30 years of experience reporting on Sports. Baseball lover and lost love of boxing.