"Last year when the season ended, I started working on my body and my preparation, just to be ready for the season," said Abreu, through interpreter Billy Russo. "It was hard work that I put into my body and my preparation, and now I get to just let it go.
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"You always try to do your routine and prepare yourself the best that you can. But now it's like my soul. Everything is more loose."
Abreu features a .296 average with 10 homers, 28 RBIs and 32 runs scored in 49 games, including his 100th career homer, which he launched in Arizona. His defense at first has shown gradual improvement with extra work put in under the watchful eyes of manager Rick Renteria and bench coach Joe McEwing.
His role as a mentor/quiet leader extends beyond the White Sox clubhouse, as Abreu spoke Tuesday about his connection with Cuban countryman Yoan Moncada, MLB's No. 1 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, who is playing second for Triple-A Charlotte.
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"We talk around three, four times a week," Abreu said. "He's a very good kid. He's like a baby. We met when we were playing in Cienfuegos in Cuba, and I know I have to take care of him.
"From the first moment that I met him in Cuba, I knew that he had a lot of talent. He hasn't changed. He's the same guy. I'm ready for him to be here with me and for us to do things together. He's a nice kid, and I'm waiting for the opportunity to finally play together with him here."
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.