4/9/2014 8:31 P.M. ET
Bat speed, balance key to Abreu's power stroke
By Jack Etkin / Special to MLB.com
DENVER -- In Spring Training, Jose Abreu hit three home runs in 56 at-bats. And he went homerless in his first 29 regular-season at-bats until the seventh inning Tuesday when he hit a three-run home run off Rockies reliever Chad Bettis.
The home run gave the White Sox a 7-2 lead and propelled them on their way to 15-3 victory. Abreu fought back from an 0-2 hole, fouled off six straight 2-2 pitches and homered on the first curveball that Bettis threw him.
The home run displays might have been missing in Spring Training, but the White Sox knew what they had in Abreu, a Cuban defector whom they signed for $68 million.
"You just hear it, the sound that comes off his bat when he hits it, especially going the other way," manager Robin Ventura said. "There's a few guys that have it; he's one that has it. The way it comes off his bat, the sound, the velocity it comes off his bat going the other way. In Spring Training, you see it a couple times and you take a second look real quick, making sure you're seeing the right thing. It's a gift."
It takes premium bat speed to cause that explosive sound, and that bat speed results from a combination of hitting assets.
"It's his balance when he makes contact," Ventura said. "His thing is putting it on the barrel. But he's balanced when he does it. He does have bat speed. He has strength. When he makes contact, he's putting his whole body into it. He's in good position to make solid contact."
Abreu's home run off Bettis went down the left-field line. In the eighth, he hit a two-run homer to right-center. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Abreu is the first rookie in White Sox franchise history to have two four-plus RBI outputs in his first eight Major League games.
The Rockies were in the market for a first baseman following the retirement of Todd Helton after the 2013 season. They ended up signing free agent Justin Morneau to a two-year, $12.5 million contract, but not before making a serious run at Abreu.
"I knew we were in the running, and it was starting to get late in the process," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We had a lot of interest in him in the offseason, and all the reports were this guy is a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat. We saw that last night."
Former Rockie Lindstrom recalls being traded away
DENVER -- White Sox closer Matt Lindstrom pitched for the Rockies in 2011, did well and was anticipating being in their bullpen in 2012. That all changed on Feb. 6, 2012, when general manager Dan O'Dowd called to tell Lindstrom he had been traded to the Orioles.
"I was already in Spring Training," Lindstrom said. "Had my house. Super Bowl Sunday, third quarter, Dan called. A week later, I had to be down in Florida [where the Orioles train]."
In 63 games with the Rockies in 2011, Lindstrom went 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA. The Rockies traded him and starting pitcher Jason Hammel to the Orioles for starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie.
"I did not expect it, absolutely not," Lindstrom said. "I understand how it works kind of with teams' needs. I knew the Rockies were in need of some starting pitching, and I guess the Orioles were in need of starting pitching and bullpen help, so it worked out for both teams."
The Rockies had acquired Lindstrom in December 2010 for two Minor League pitchers. It was a welcome move for Lindstrom, because he was living in a Denver suburb.
"I trained here and lived here for eight offseasons," he said. "So for me to actually get traded over here, I was elated to say the least, because I could stay at home. I put in all that hard work and expected to be on the team."
Avisail turns on two pitches for first multi-homer game
DENVER -- Right fielder Avisail Garcia hit two home runs Tuesday for his first career multi-homer game. The home runs came in the second off Franklin Morales and in the eighth off Wilton Lopez, and both were hit to left field. In addition to the career milestone, the home runs were notable, since Garcia typically hits to the opposite field.
"It's a big step," manager Robin Ventura said. "Guys that go the other way, sometimes it takes them a while to learn how to pull the ball correctly. He's been in the middle of that for probably a week of still working it hard.
"He hasn't hit too many balls like that. The last couple days, he's been hitting like that to where just the trajectory and the way his bat comes through the zone is a little bit better than it's been."
Third to first
• Shortstop Alexei Ramirez is hitting .412 (14-for-34) with three doubles, one homer and six RBIs as well as a .459 on-base percentage and a .588 slugging percentage. His nine-game hitting streak is the longest of his career to begin a season. Better plate discipline has been the key to his torrid start.
"He's getting pitches in the zone," Ventura said. "That's always been the thing for him is if he's swinging at strikes and making a pitcher work. He can hit; you just have to hit strikes."
• Marcus Semien and Garcia each had four hits on Tuesday. According to STATS LLC, the last time the White Sox had two players 23 or younger have four or more hits in the same game was April 20, 1980, when Harold Baines (21) and Harry Chappas (22) each had four hits.
The last time any team had two players 23 or younger get four or more hits in the same game was Sept. 19, 2000, when Luis Rivas (21) and Cristian Guzman (22 ) each had four hits for the Twins.
• Semien's four hits were the most by a White Sox rookie since Jerry Owens had five hits on Sept. 22, 2007, against the Twins.
• Adrian Nieto ended up with his first Major League hit four days after he batted, thanks to a scoring change. In the fifth inning Saturday at Kansas City, Nieto hit a ball down the third-base line that was ruled an error. Major League Baseball reviewed the play at the White Sox request, and it was ruled a hit. After the play, the White Sox had the ball tossed to the dugout, so Nieto has his keepsake.
Jack Etkin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.