CHICAGO -- Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona dropped a high-level compliment on Jose Abreu on Thursday, comparing the Chicago White Sox slugger to Triple Crown winner and back-to-back AL MVP Miguel Cabrera.
A day earler, Francona talked up the White Sox’s young offensive core in Abreu, Avisail Garcia and Adam Eaton. Only a few hours later, he watched Abreu deliver a pair of RBI singles, including one in the seventh inning when the Indians were actually trying to pitch around him.
“It was about 7 or 8 inches out of the strike zone; it's pretty impressive,” Francona said of Abreu’s hit that put the White Sox ahead for good. “[Indians pitcher Corey] Kluber did a good job. I mean, he did make a couple of mistakes ahead in the count. But damn, man, that was a hell of a pitch. Sometimes you've got to tip your hat. Not too many guys hit that ball for a hit. That was pretty impressive.”
It’s always dangerous to predict greatness for players, especially for somebody like Abreu, who hasn’t even played a full season in the major leagues. But Francona has now seen enough after 15 games between the White Sox and Indians to know he is seeing something special.
“I don't know the kid, so I wouldn't want to say I was surprised, but he's a hell of a hitter and, by all accounts, great kid,” Francona said. “But what makes you nervous is, sometimes when you see young guys and they have a good first half, you think, 'OK,' you know?
“But he's making adjustments along the way. He seems to have a little bit of when I saw 'Miggy’ [for the first time]. He seems to be a pitch ahead of pitchers as opposed to a pitch behind. You can't just throw him breaking balls, because he’s gonna [be ready]. We made him look bad one at-bat, but he’s a pretty smart kid.”