Abreu requests extra defensive work

Abreu requests extra defensive work

CHICAGO -- Jose Abreu worked for close to 45 minutes on his first-base defense prior to the start of White Sox batting practice Saturday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Abreu asked for the extra session under the guidance of manager Rick Renteria, bench coach Joe McEwing and assistant hitting coach Greg Sparks.

"He wanted to work a little bit," Renteria said. "He was just saying, 'When we lose certain things we've been working on,' he wants to get back at it. Joey had been talking to him yesterday about it. They came out here, and they started working.

"It's just basically trying to get himself back into a feel of making sure he knows the direction the ball is coming from, making sure his footwork around the base is working properly. And sometimes he tries to stretch too much. Allow the ball to do what it's doing and put himself in a better position to receive the baseball."

Abreu entered Saturday's contest tied with the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter for the Major League lead in errors among first basemen at five. He made a costly mistake in the first inning of Thursday's loss to the Twins, dropping a throw from Tyler Saladino that would have completed an inning-ending double play but instead extended a frame during which the Twins scored four unearned runs off Derek Holland.

Stretching too early was the problem on that play in Abreu's mind, which led to the specific area of Saturday instruction. Renteria reiterated how Abreu should not be more of a designated hitter than a first baseman, while applauding the hard work characterizing Abreu's four years with the White Sox.

"I came here last year and observed his work ethic first-hand," Renteria said. "I saw Joey working out there a lot with him. He knows, and he talks about how work is the only way to get things done. He's been doing it today.

"I've seen him moving around the field, taking ground balls. And you see his feet, see his hands. We're talking to him not only about the technique -- Joey was talking to him about the technique of working around the base and not stretching too soon -- but also trying to, believe it or not, sometimes the tools that you're using may not quite be the right tool for you.

"So you need to figure out if you can change a little bit of the webbing or the mitts, because the ball rolls around a little too much more than I would like," Renteria said. "They're just suggestions. Obviously the man playing out in the field has to make the decisions, the conscious effort of making adjustments to the extent that he wants to, and I think he is."

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.