Abreu gets day off to rest, recharge

Abreu gets day off to rest, recharge

CHICAGO -- Work, work, work, work, work. Those words are more than the primary lyrics from Rihanna's chart-topping hit. They also serve as the backbone for Jose Abreu's plan to fight out of almost two months of up-and-down production with the bat.

"It's a matter of work," Abreu said through interpreter and White Sox Spanish language broadcaster Billy Russo. "Just keep working hard like you know that I work, and probably tomorrow or soon I'm going to start to producing like everybody knows."

Abreu wasn't in the starting lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Royals. It's a rare day off for one of the top offensive forces in baseball over the past two years and a player whom the White Sox must have near his All-Star levels to be successful as a team.

Todd Frazier entered Sunday leading the team with 32 RBIs, and Abreu was second at 27. But he has only one extra-base hit with runners in scoring position and has an overall uncharacteristic slash line of .243/.318/.396. Abreu finished 1-for-4 in Saturday's 2-1 loss but also hit into two double plays, including one with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh.

So, White Sox manager Robin Ventura gave Abreu a mental health day.

"Just hit the reset button and let him watch and cheer guys on," Ventura said. "Sometimes it's better just to sit there and watch the game, and for him, he just needs a little refresh."

"I work the same way if I'm playing. I don't change anything," Abreu said. "I like to be prepare just in case at some point in the game I have to hit. I just work the same way I do every day."

That consistency in approach is one of the many reasons why Abreu is listed among the game's elite offensive players. Even in the toughest stretch of his short but successful three-year career, Abreu isn't going to panic or make drastic changes to a set routine.

"Nothing has changed," Abreu said. "I have been feeling good. Yesterday was just a bad game with bad results. I felt good yesterday. I think that it's baseball. I'm feeling very good, and I'm much better than probably a month ago.

"Right now, it's a matter of my approach. I've been swinging at a lot of pitches out of the zone, and that's not my approach. I have to regroup, and I have to work to be on my successful path."

While it's work, work, work, work, work for Abreu, it's a surprise anytime someone of this ilk doesn't perform at the expected high level.

"Anytime a guy like him doesn't hit up to his potential, doesn't drive the ball and do things like that, you're always amazed," Ventura said. "When Frank [Thomas] did it, you're amazed. When you see Albert Pujols do that, you're amazed. [Mike] Piazza, all those guys,

"You're always amazed when it happens, but it happens to every baseball player. You just have to be able to sit back and relax somewhat and get back out there."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.