'Your career can end. Your life can end': Why Abreu got upset after getting hit

  • Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu is held back by teammates during a bench clearing against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.

    Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu is held back by teammates during a bench clearing against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021. Associated Press

Updated 9/29/2021 5:27 AM

Near the end of his 20-some minute talk with the media Tuesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field, Jose Abreu did apologize for nearly setting off a brawl at Detroit the day before.

"That's not the kind of action you want to see from a baseball player, especially since a lot of kids follow me," the White Sox's star first baseman said. "I don't want them to think that's how you play the game. It's not. Sometimes you react and your emotions get the best of you, but I want to make sure the kids don't take that as an example because that's not right."


Looking back at Monday's 8-7 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park, Abreu didn't think his explosive reaction to getting hit on the left elbow by a 97 mph fastball was wrong.

It happened in the ninth inning, when Detroit reliever Alex Lange drilled him with an 0-2 pitch.

Considering it was the 21st time Abreu has been hit this season, he wasn't overly emotional at first.

But when he tried to advance on Lange's pitch in the dirt to Yasmani Grandal, Abreu was clearly angry and slid into second base hard as Tigers shortstop Niko Goodrum tagged him out.

"He's mad. I get it," Goodrum told Detroit reporters Tuesday. "But then you are responsible for your actions. We're all grown. We're not kids anymore. From there, that's what he decided to do. You break my leg, that's an issue. Everyone out here is just trying to feed their family."

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Try telling that to Abreu, who played against the Reds Tuesday night with a badly bruised elbow. The American League's reigning MVP was also beaned in the head by Indians reliever James Karinchak in July.

"You get mad because you are concerned about yourself," Abreu said. "If something happened, if you get hit badly, then your career can end. Your life can end. That's why you're concerned in those moments."

After Abreu had words with Goodrum following the slide into second, he seemed to be calming down until Lange made his way to the bag and started yelling.

"When he hit me, he didn't apologize or say anything," Abreu said. "And that's fine, but then I slid into second base and he started chirping. That's not good, you don't do that. Why are you doing that? You threw the pitch that you're supposed to do, apologize or do something.


"You didn't and then you start talking to me? That's not the way that we play baseball."

For much of the season, White Sox manager Tony La Russa has been lamenting the skill of inexperienced pitchers that keep throwing inside to Abreu.

"It was not an issue years ago when pitchers, the great majority had command and they were pitching in," La Russa said. "And they'll tell you they pitch in and if they want to miss by a couple inches, they'll miss you. And if they wanted to hit you, they hit you. It's become more of a problem with young guys getting in the big leagues ahead of time, really relying on their stuff.

"There is a difference between pitching and throwing in. Throwing in means you're aiming it there but you're not really sure where it goes. If you lack command then be careful throwing the ball in, especially up and in. That's why the answer, 'Hey, we hit him but we were just trying to get the ball up and in we didn't mean to hit him,' well, if you don't have command then you're being irresponsible."


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