Shortly before it was revealed that second baseman Gordon Beckham will miss at least one week with a strained oblique, another nagging injury for the Chicago White Sox came to light. Reports say that new Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu is fighting some soreness in his ankles, a problem that has bothered him for about a week.
According to manager Robin Ventura, one of the causes of the soreness can be traced back to little things like new shoes, new equipment and getting used to playing baseball in a new physical environment. To combat the soreness, Abreu took several days off and played with both ankles wrapped, and this seems to be working so far. Ventura said he is not worried about Abreu’s ankles, and that the situation is under control.
But, if the soreness is something more or develops into something more than a simple ache, the White Sox infield could find itself further up a creek with few very few canoes in sight. If Abreu misses time during the regular season, be it from simply sitting out a few more games than normal or even a stint on the disabled list, his absence will have an impact. From the moment he first set foot on the diamond in Glendale, Abreu earned rave reviews from teammates and front office staff, who praised his focus and baseball acumen. To complement his professional poise, Abreu is hitting .286 this spring, with one home run and six RBIs, and has yet to commit an error at first base.
If Abreu goes down with injury, the White Sox have few options at first base. If forced into an everyday role instead of the supplementary role expected of him in his final season, Paul Konerko’s offensive numbers will be very far below what he once could produce, while his defense will remain strong. And while Adam Dunn’s bat remains powerful, his defense leaves much to be desired. Conor Gillaspie could feasibly shift from third base to first, as he did several times last season, but in light of Matt Davidson’s lack of range at the hot corner, Gillaspie’s glove is needed on the other side of the infield. Most of this is speculation, since Abreu seems to be improving; however, if Abreu’s ankle soreness becomes a problem, it could mean trouble on the South Side.