'Like seeing Jordan in a Wizards uniform.' José Abreu begins his next chapter after 9 years with White Sox.

LaMond Pope, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

HOUSTON — José Abreu gave Gavin Sheets a big hug before beginning batting practice Thursday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

A few minutes later, Eloy Jiménez and Yasmani Grandal watched from behind the cage as Abreu took a few swings. A few minutes after the session finished, Abreu received a hug from Lance Lynn near the Houston Astros dugout.

Abreu enjoyed the reunion with his former teammates before making his debut with the Astros against the Chicago White Sox. Abreu went 1 for 4 in a 3-2 loss to the Sox.

“The guys over there I respect and they treat me with respect as well,” Abreu said through an interpreter before Thursday’s game. “The only thing I can hope for is they are healthy all season.

“Just because I am in a different uniform across the field doesn’t mean I’m not going to have respect for them. A lot of those guys are friends of mine. Some I didn’t get to know as well. But the respect is still there.”

Abreu, who ranks in the top 10 on the Sox all-time list in several offensive categories and was voted the American League Most Valuable Player in 2020, began a new chapter of his career Thursday. After nine seasons with the Sox, Abreu signed a three-year deal with the Astros in the offseason.


“I am very grateful for the nine years I spent over there in the organization, grateful for all the people I met over there along the way,” Abreu said. “But that’s part of life and part of (God’s) plans and God knows what he does.

“I’m ready for that challenge. God knows why he does what he does and he put me today here against the White Sox, he must have a plan.”

Sox general manager Rick Hahn on Wednesday said of seeing Abreu in another uniform: “It’s like seeing Jordan in a Wizards uniform.”

“It’s going to look weird,” Hahn said. “After probably the first pitch or the first AB when he’s up there, it’ll probably settle in to more normalcy. But initially yes, it’s definitely going to be weird.


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