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Like Anderson and Jiménez, José Abreu brings enthusiasm to La Russa hire

And Pito knows what challenge lies ahead in 2021: “We have to win”

José Abreu spoke with local media on Friday morning, addressing his MVP win and the prospects of playing under Tony La Russa.
Chicago White Sox

Another week, another delightful media session with a White Sox slugger, celebrating an award.

Now, to be sure, last week’s talk with Tim Anderson and Eloy Jiménez about their Silver Sluggers lasted just one courtesy question about the awards before the Tony La Russa hire was brought up.

On Friday, Abreu fielded several questions about his MVP win to start things off. But just as happened a week ago, talk eventually turned to the change in managers.

And hey, news flash: Unlike Anderson and Eloy, Abreu has heard from the new manager!

“Yesterday morning I had a chance to talk to Tony,” Abreu said. “I welcomed him and told him I would support him, that I’ll have his back. It was a short conversation, but it was a good one.”

As for Renteria’s firing, Abreu mostly opted to keep it positive.

“Those are the things I can’t control. I’m not the one making the decisions on the team,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for Rick and the coaching staff. They helped us a lot. I’m glad to have a manager like Tony La Russa. I told him yesterday he can count on me. As players, we can play hard and respect him. We’ll see how things go once the season starts.”

As Anderson made clear he’d remain close with Ricky, Renteria likewise will stay in Abreu’s phone, given the enormous role the mentor played in the 2020 AL MVP’s life.

“We’ve been fortunate to be around good people. Ricky was one of those people,” Abreu said. “He’s a friend, and a father, and he’ll continue to be that for me and a lot of people, because I’m sure he’ll be in baseball.”

I asked José right before we switched over to preguntas en Español about whether he spoke to Renteria after the manager was fired, and unsurprisingly, the answer was affirmative.

“Yes, I’ve talked with him a few times. Actually, he reached out to me yesterday,” Abreu said. “I told him, because he was a great person to me, I told him I love him. I know he’s surrounded by good people, and his family. But that was it. I said I was really thankful for all the things he did for us, and that I still see him as a friend.”

Abreu wasn’t directly asked about the controversy in the fan base surrounding La Russa’s hire, yet he still formulated what sounded like an answer to that question.

“Things happen. This is a free country, you can have an opinion,” he said. “But for us, we have to appreciate what we have. Right now, he’s our manager. His record as a manager in the big leagues is one of the best. We’re going to have a chance to play for one of the best managers in the game.”

Abreu added that he contacted Albert Pujols to talk about what it’s like playing under La Russa: “I reached out to Pujols and he told me he was a great manager, an upstanding person — a manager that I’ll like to play for. I’m looking forward to it.”

There’s a lot of great stuff in the interview above, so feel free to check out the full footage.

But let’s end up on a bold note, which was Abreu’s response when asked what’s next for the White Sox in 2021.

“We have to win. No matter how, we have to win,” Abreu said. “That’s all we have to think about. We have the talent and the resources to win. We can’t have any more excuses. We have to win.”

José Abreu media session courtesy of the Chicago White Sox.