MLB: Astros’ Jose Abreu in ‘good spot’ ahead of opener vs. Mariners

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The Houston Astros expect to have a familiar face back in the clubhouse when they open a four-game series Monday at Seattle.

First baseman Jose Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the ballclub after he was optioned to the Astros’ spring training complex in West Palm Beach, Fla. He had been working on his swing with, among others, Hall of Fame member Jeff Bagwell and former teammate Michael Brantley.

Abreu, the 2020 American League MVP with the Chicago White Sox, was batting .099 with one extra-base hit and three RBIs in 22 games when he was sent to the minors for the first time in his career.

“What I can tell you is my head is in a good spot right now,” Abreu told The Athletic. “When I was going through it, when your head is not in a good spot, you feel like everything is going down. There was a point, and I’m telling you from the bottom of my heart, I couldn’t even know how to hit, how to field. I was a little lost. But I’m humble enough to recognize that and I’m telling you I’m trying to be the best Jose Abreu I can be and the one you guys know.”

Abreu went 7-for-22 with a homer and three RBIs in the Florida Complex League before playing in two games for the Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys, going 0-for-7 with three strikeouts.

“The plan is to bring him for the Seattle series and just come in with confidence,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “He has made adjustments that we feel are going to help him and we just expect him to come back up here and just be himself and we’re going to help him, get him rolling. We’re all waiting for him, our players are excited, we are excited to have him back, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Abreu, 37, batted .237 with 18 home runs and 90 RBIs last season, his first in Houston after signing a three-year, $58.5 million deal.

“I was wrong on my swing, and games speed up on you too much and it’s tough to see where you’re at,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I saw videos and didn’t see it, and now we found it and I hope that I can show it right away, right now, but it’s baseball, it’s a process.”

The Astros won 5-2 at Oakland on Sunday as Kyle Tucker belted a two-run homer and Ronel Blanco allowed the Athletics one run on four hits over seven innings.

“He didn’t miss a beat,” Espada said of Blanco, who returned from a 10-game suspension for having an illegal substance on his glove.

Houston has won 10 of its past 14 games to pull within 3 1/2 games of the American League West-leading Mariners. On May 1, the Astros were in last place in the division, 6 1/2 games out.

Seattle snapped a season-worst, four-game losing streak with a 9-5 victory at Washington on Sunday. Julio Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs and Ty France went deep and drove in three.

Rodriguez homered in each of the last two games in the series to double his season total to four.

“Huge game by Julio,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Really happy for him. Everybody’s happy to see it. That’s the Julio Rodriguez we’ve grown to know over the last couple of years and hopefully he can keep that going. That’s the best he’s looked all year.”

Astros left-hander Framber Valdez (3-2, 4.32 ERA) is set to start the series opener Monday against Mariners right-hander Bryce Miller (3-5, 3.53).

Valdez is 5-2 with a 3.41 ERA in 13 career appearances (11 starts) against Seattle; Miller is 2-1, 3.22 in four career starts versus Houston.

Valdez lost 5-0 to the visiting Mariners on May 4 as he allowed five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. Miller didn’t get a decision in Seattle’s 5-4 victory at Houston on May 5, a game in which he gave up four runs on six hits over six innings.

–Field Level Media

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