Ventura still plotting Abreu's course

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura took a short turn on the mound Tuesday and was more than happy with the home runs he allowed.

Pitching to slugger Jose Abreu in batting practice, Ventura got his first up-close-and-personal look at his new power hitter and came away impressed.

One word Ventura gave to describe Abreu's approach: "Professional."

"He has more of a professional approach for being a big guy, hitting the ball the other way, more aware of his pitch," Ventura said. "That's stuff you like to see, the way they work, they go about it. He knows how to practice. He's played before, so you know he knows how to do that."

While others might try to flex their muscles in batting practice, Abreu has other concerns.

"You're watching him practice, and he's not worried about trying to hit every ball over the fence," Ventura said. "He's moving it around the field and hitting it on the barrel. Even fielding stuff, you're watching him do things for a reason. He has a way to go about it that's very professional."

Ventura said he has not set on a lineup yet and might not commit to one even after Cactus League games begin.

"We'll see where everybody is when we get the full squad in here and go from there," Ventura said. "But the idea would be, you would like him to be a middle-of-the-order guy and be there the whole year, but that's always subject to change."

Also subject to change is just how many at-bats Abreu might get in his rookie season. The thought is that he would take over at first base on a full-time basis, but there is also a plan to distribute the 1,200-1,300 at-bats between designated hitter and first base between Abreu, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn.

"If he's doing well enough he can have them," Ventura said of all the first-base at-bats. "You don't want to put that out there that it's expected. Paulie is going to mix in in games. There's Dunner. There are ways to move that around. It's not required that he has to have that.

"We'll kind of readjust and see how it goes during the season. If he does, that's great. I just want to let him play. There are expectations no matter what because of the money you have and him coming over from Cuba. I just want him to be comfortable and play."