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HOUSTON – During the earliest days of the team’s rebuild to their climb to the top of the American League Central Division, he’s been a steady presence on the field and in the locker room.

So having Jose Abreu deal with an illness before the White Sox first American League Division Series in 13 years is a less than ideal situation, it could have been much worse.

After not making the initial flight to Houston for Game 1 on Thursday, the White Sox announced that Abreu has been dealing with the flu, which isn’t COVID-related. He is feeling better and is expected to travel to Houston Wednesday night to join the rest of the team.

His status for Thursday’s game is still unknown, but manager Tony La Russa is feeling much better about the status of the 2020 AL MVP.

“Now we’re all brimming with happiness and excitement because the fever broke, he passed the test, which is mandatory, he’ll be flying back here tonight, and then see where his strength level is tomorrow,” said La Russa of Abreu. “Our worst fears were never realized and he’ll be back in uniform.”

All of that is good news for the White Sox who could use his skills and experience against the AL West champion Astros. In 152 games, Abreu hit .261/.351/.481 with 30 homers and 117 RBI that included 30 doubles as he aided the team’s run to the division title.

La Russa expects that Abreu will push hard to make the start on Thursday afternoon as the first baseman takes the field in the playoffs for a second time in his career.

“We’ve had several discussions in the clubhouse about how stubborn he’s going to be about admitting how he feels tomorrow, for the game tomorrow. We’ll just hand him the baseball bible, and see,” said La Russa of Abreu. “I think for certain if he’s not in there tomorrow, he’ll be in there Friday.”

Of course, the sooner the better when it comes to the White Sox as they start the playoffs.