CHICAGO -- So far so good for Jose Abreu, as he has picked up in his sophomore season the same way he left off in a stirring debut year.
The Chicago White Sox's first baseman and budding clubhouse leader already has a team-leading five home runs, and an uncharacteristically low batting average to start the season, was up to .291 at the start of play Thursday.
With a full season of tape on Abreu from last year, not to mention thorough scouting reports, there was some question as to whether the Cuba native would be able to repeat his success from Year 1. But his tireless work ethic, to go along with outstanding plate coverage, has enabled him to keep right on producing.
"That's Jose," teammate Adam Eaton said. "To be honest with you, if you took a look at last season, I think there was a stretch where he struggled a little early, and then he turned it on for the rest of the season. He's a great hitter, and you can't say enough about his professionalism at the plate."
And he's not content to be successful alone, insisting the team needs to pick up the pace. Abreu wants to see an improved sense of urgency from the club, especially in the early innings. And he's not just saying it -- he has shown it with first-inning home runs Tuesday and Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians.
"I think we have to start the game with that mentality and that fierceness to try to create opportunities and not just wait until the ninth inning to see what happens," Abreu said through an interpreter.
He might be in only the first month of his second season, but Abreu has earned the right to speak up. His 41 home runs since the start of 2014 are second only to the Seattle Mariners' Nelson Cruz (48).
And his homer Wednesday against the Indians' Corey Kluber, gave him seven home runs against Cy Young winners. The elite group he has taken deep, in addition to Kluber, includes R.A. Dickey, Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Justin Verlander.
"He's a great player, and everything he gets he earns, for sure," Eaton said.