HOUSTON – They’ve dealt with one health issue after another since spring training ended, so what about more in the playoffs?
The White Sox are hoping the latest crisis is more of a false alarm, but there is a chance that RBI machine Jose Abreu will miss Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
Abreu missed the final game of the regular season on Sunday with flu-like symptoms unrelated to COVID-19.
Showing a fever during Tuesday’s practice at Guaranteed Rate Field, the 34-year-old first baseman was sent home and did not accompany the White Sox to Houston.
Abreu flew to Texas on Wednesday night, and the Sox aren’t sure he’ll be able to play the playoff opener Thursday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
“He had a rough night (Tuesday) with a fever and now we are all full of happiness and excitement because the fever has broken out,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “He passed the tests, which are mandatory. He comes back here tonight and then we’ll see what his strength level is for tomorrow, but our worst fears have never come true. He will be back in uniform.”
Abreu has been hit by 22 shots during the season, once at the head. He was involved in a heavy collision with the Royals’ Hunter Dozier and missed a game.
He missed three games with a left ankle injury shortly after hitting Dozier, but Abreu finished the season leading the Sox in games played (152), homers (30) and RBI (117).
Facing an Astros team that can beat baseball, the White Sox know they need Abreu’s bat in the lineup to counter the expected offense.
“He really means a lot to this baseball club,” said shortstop Tim Anderson. “I think he’s the biggest key we need in good health. But I’m sure you know that, we all know how stubborn he is and you know he won’t want to sit down. He’s not going to be happy with that. So that’s a positive. “
Abreu always seems to get up, dust himself off and stay on the pitch. He’ll likely play in Game 1, but not until La Russa exercises the usual caution.
“We have had several conversations in the clubhouse about his stubbornness to admit how he feels for tomorrow’s game,” La Russa said. “Put his hand on the baseball bible and see. I think if he’s not here tomorrow, he’ll be there on Friday. “
The Sox were able to take over from injuries to Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert and Yasmani Grandal for extended periods, and they continued to rack up wins.
Losing Abreu, even for a game, is something they’d rather not deal with in a short best-of-five playoff series.
“You sure don’t want him to feel bad, but knowing he’s on the right track is a huge boost for us,” said Lance Lynn, who starts for the White Sox in Game 1. the soul of the team. He plays through anything. He is always there day in and day out and gives you everything he has. So we can’t wait to see it, that’s for sure. “