White Sox position players officially don't report until Thursday, but Jose Abreu somehow started going to work at Camelback Ranch before the Sox even signed him.
Not really, but as you start to read about Abreu, it starts seeming within the realm of possibility.
Abreu talked to the media today, but everything else about him is speaking louder. Take his batting practice, for example, where this apparently happened.
I just missed seeing it live but apparently Abreu hit a HR in BP anywhere from 450 to 800 feet today.— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) February 18, 2014
"You're watching him practice, and he's not worried about trying to hit every ball over the fence," Ventura said. "He's moving it around the field and hitting it on the barrel. Even fielding stuff, you're watching him do things for a reason. He has a way to go about it that's very professional.
"… You're looking at a guy who knows what he's doing and has a plan when he goes in there, instead of just swinging as hard as he can and hopefully he hits it."
And that's how it basically is for everything. Conditioning director Allen Thomas started working with Abreu in December to put him on a workout and nutrition regimen, and Abreu has been a sponge:
"Let me tell you, he’s taking it seriously," Thomas said. "He’s really serious about his job. He’s really locked in as soon as he walks through the doors. … If he says 7:30, he’s there at 7:30. I love everything he’s about."
Even his teammates are taken aback. Gordon Beckham joked that Abreu spent four hours in the cage the day before, Adam Eaton said that focus extends to all areas.
"Very quiet, but he's passionate about the game," Eaton said. "Ground balls, anything, you can see it in his body language. If he doesn't do something right, he goes after it again and learns from it. He works his butt off in the cage."
And it extends after hours, too:
Abreu describes himself as a homebody. He likes to hang out with his wife and watch videos of Josh Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera, among others, in his free time.
With this identity he's forged for himself stateside, I'm looking forward to his participation in personal, lighter-side promos.
- Favorite snack: Baseballs
- Favorite song: "Charge"
- If I weren't a baseball player, I'd be: A withered, discarded husk
- Favorite pizza topping: Baseballs
- Favorite vacation spot: The inside of a bat bag
Thanks to cautionary tales like Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin, this level of dedication can be alarming as it is awesome. Given the enormity of the tasks at hand -- living up to a huge contract while adjusting to a new country -- there probably isn't such a thing as too much focus right now.
Speaking of nicknames, Eaton says his Sox teammates call Jose Abreu "Oso," (which is bear in Spanish) because of his size, and "Yogi" because he resembles the famed cartoon character.