Jose Abreu says White Sox are ‘blessed' to have Michael Kopech, adds: ‘I wouldn't like to face him'


Michael Kopech’s arrival on the South Side and the White Sox improved play coming at the same time doesn’t seem to be a complete coincidence.

The White Sox didn’t win Kopech’s rain-shortened big league debut, but they’ve won nine of the 14 games they’ve played with him on the roster. A couple of his fellow starting pitchers have described him as a catalyst of sorts for that group’s continued dominant performance of late. His promotion invigorated a fan base that’s waited all season for some obvious signs of progress at the major league level.

So what does the current face of the franchise think of the club’s newest star?

“We as a team are just blessed to have him with us,” Jose Abreu said through a team translator Tuesday. “With all the talent he has and all the stuff he has shown on the field, that’s one of the reasons for what we’ve all been saying in the last year or so, that we’re going to be good in the future. It’s because of players like him, the talent he has.

“In my case I’m just happy to have him on my team. I wouldn’t like to face him. Right now my purpose is just to help him and the young guys finish strong and for him, to be on this team for next year, to be part of the rotation and one of our main guys.”

Abreu hasn’t played in a game since Kopech was called up, Kopech’s debut lining up with the first game Abreu missed because of surgery to relieve testicular torsion. Abreu’s recovery has kept him sidelined since, but the first baseman said he’s watched every game, which includes all three of Kopech’s starts.

Kopech hasn’t logged a lot of innings — two of his three starts have been cut short by rain delays — but he has managed to impress. He’s allowed just one run, struck out nine opposing batters and worked his way out of a few jams to rave reviews. Plus, his minor league track record (172 strikeouts in 2017, followed up with 155 in three fewer starts this season) and his status as the organization’s top-ranked pitching prospect have expectations incredibly high.

If the White Sox opt to extend Abreu, who’s slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season, then these two could end up as co-faces of the franchise once it segues from rebuilding mode to contention mode.

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