CLEVELAND – It’s a much different feeling this year than it was in 2018, where Jose Abreu felt a bit alone in Washington DC.
Voted a starter for the game by the fans, Abreu was the only representative for a White Sox team that would go onto lose 100 games. This year, it’s a bit different as the first baseman makes his third appearance in the Midsummer Classic.
This time he has a pair of teammates by his side in Cleveland.
“That makes this occasion even more special,” said Abreu of having pitcher Lucas Giolito and catcher James McCann on the roster with him. “We’re just trying to enjoy and try to have a good time here.”
All three will come off the bench for the American League on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. Abreu’s appearance in the All-Star Game didn’t come as a shock considering his past success and his strong 2019 season to date (.278/.316/.522, 21 homers, 66 RBI).
That’s the opposite for Giolito and McCann, who’ve put themselves in the running for Comeback Player of the Year with their surprising first half play. Giolito is the most striking, rallying back from a season where he was 10-13 with a 6.18 era to become one of the best pitchers in the American League in the first half. He won nine-straight games at one point and was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for May.
Two rough outings against the Cubs took his ERA up a bit, but it’s still at 3.15 for the season with an 11-3 record.
McCann has caught all 17 of his starts this season as he’s made a turnaround of his own since joining the White Sox. A minus-.5 WAR player with the Tigers in 2018, the catcher has increased that to 2.8 as he’s hit .316 with nine homers and 30 RBI this season. While happy to be on the same team as Abreu, McCann feels a close connection to Giolito, knowing how their journey to the All-Star Game was so similar.
“Sharing it with a guy like Lucas, his story, similar to mine, down year last year, the dedication and perseverance to fight and make adjustments. To come back and make an All-Star year, it’s a special bond that he and I have,” said McCann of Giolito.”A bond that goes a lot further than that, then our relationship of pitcher and catcher.”
“It means a lot to me. The work we’ve been putting in together every five days, having him back there, the most reliable catcher I’ve ever thrown to. I barely shake off anymore. Just makes my job a lot easier,” said Giolito of McCann. “He deserves it, he deserves it. Not just for the numbers, the offensive numbers. Obviously he’s having a breakout offensive year but what he does for our team. You can’t really put it into words.
“He’s a leader and he kinda keeps us all in check both on the serious side and the fun, having a good time side.”
The latter will be more this week, as he along with Giolito and Abreu enjoy their All-Star Weekend together.