PREVIEW: Astros hope to get Jose Abreu untracked vs. White Sox

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

PREVIEW: Astros hope to get Jose Abreu untracked vs. White Sox

Jose Abreu visited the injured list only twice during his nine seasons with the Chicago White Sox. On seven occasions, he played in more than 93% of the team’s games.

Now with the Houston Astros, Abreu remains sturdy but is nonetheless struggling. The first baseman enters the series opener at Chicago on Friday with more rest than most of his teammates, getting the day off Wednesday ahead of a team travel day as he works to find a groove.

“He’s so quiet and internalizes everything,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I know it’s killing him not to be helping this team and not to perform.”

Abreu is batting .218 with no home runs, 14 RBIs, and a .525 OPS in 36 games. Wednesday marked the first time he was out of the Houston lineup after signing with the club in November.

Baker said he thinks Abreu is “hurting a little bit somewhere, but he’s not saying because he’s such a warrior.” Abreu has served as Houston’s cleanup hitter 31 times this season.

Houston edged the Los Angeles Angels 5-4 on Wednesday to earn a series victory in Anaheim, Calif., and improve to 3-3 on a nine-game road trip that concludes this weekend against the White Sox.

“We held on,” Baker said. “You never know which run is going to be the winning run, and it feels good to win a one-run game on the road.”

The margin of victory has been two runs or fewer in eight straight Astros games and nine of their past 10.

It’s nothing unusual. In splitting a season-opening, four-game series against the visiting White Sox, the defending World Series champions outscored Chicago 17-16.

The White Sox are 13 games under .500 since then, and they are coming off an uneven, 3-4 road trip to Cincinnati and Kansas City.

Freddy Fermin dropped a squeeze bunt in front of Chicago pitcher Reynaldo Lopez to score the winning run in the ninth inning on Thursday as the Royals earned a 4-3 victory. Kansas City, which had won just three home games entering the series, took three of four.

“We had some momentum coming in, and we got outplayed,” Chicago manager Pedro Grifol said.

The White Sox lost catcher Yasmani Grandal to right hamstring tightness in the fourth inning on Thursday, but they anticipate the return of third baseman Yoan Moncada (back), who is expected to be reinstated from the injured list ahead of the Friday game.

J.P. France, a 28-year-old rookie right-hander, is set to make his second career start for Houston on Friday. France (0-0, 0.00 ERA) took a no-decision in his major league debut at Seattle on Saturday, spacing three hits, one walk, and five strikeouts in five scoreless innings.

Right-hander Michael Kopech (1-3, 5.97 ERA) gets the call for Chicago. Kopech earned his first victory of the season on Sunday in Cincinnati, overcoming four solo home runs by the Reds in six innings during a 17-4 White Sox romp.

Kopech is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA in three career appearances against Houston, including two starts, with seven strikeouts in 12 innings.

–Field Level Media

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