Possibly the two brightest young stars in baseball have recovered in time to provide a marquee weekend matchup.
The favorite for AL Rookie of the Year and the winner from two seasons ago will square off for the first time Friday night when Jose Abreu and the Chicago White Sox visit Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels.
Besides the intrigue of these budding superstars being on the same field, Angels ace Jered Weaver takes the mound as these second-place clubs open their season series with winning records after disappointing sub-.500 campaigns in 2013.
Abreu is a big reason why the White Sox (31-30) are contenders after finishing last in the AL Central, ranking third in the AL in homers (17) and sixth in RBIs (47) despite a stint on the disabled list for ankle tendinitis. In three games since returning, the Cuban outfielder has driven in five of Chicago's eight runs while going 4 for 11 with two homers.
"He's pretty nice to have in the lineup," manager Robin Ventura told the team's official website. "The last couple of nights are the reason why. He just makes us a little more dangerous when he's in the lineup. You're able to score some runs that you wouldn't if he isn't in there."
Trout wasn't in the lineup for four straight games other than one at-bat Tuesday when he was pulled due to ongoing stiffness in his upper back. An MRI the following day revealed no damage, and he returned as the designated hitter Thursday night with a triple and an RBI double in an 8-5 loss at Houston.
Pain-free after the game, Trout expects to return to his usual outfield spot Friday.
''It never tightened up, nothing,'' he said. ''I didn't feel really anything. I stretched it really well between at-bats but I think running around in center field will keep it loose, too.''
Trout has bounced back from a slump in the first half of May to hit .436 in his last 11 games with three homers and 11 RBIs.
While Trout is already a two-time AL MVP runner-up despite not turning 23 until August, Abreu is a candidate this year and will stay that way if he keeps terrorizing opponents in their own ballparks. He has 11 homers and 25 RBIs in his last 22 road games.
Having to face Abreu could make it tough for Weaver (6-4, 3.33 ERA) to continue his mastery of the White Sox. He's 7-2 with a 1.59 ERA in 10 starts against them, winning the last three.
That might not mean much considering how Weaver fared Sunday at Oakland. He was 8-1 with an 0.87 ERA in his last 11 starts against the Athletics but had arguably his worst performance of the season, yielding six runs and 11 hits in six innings of a 6-3 loss.
Weaver had been 6-1 with a 2.01 ERA in his previous eight outings.
Chicago counters with Andre Rienzo (4-2, 4.26), who faces the Angels (31-28) for the first time looking to avoid a career-high third straight loss. Six days after allowing five runs - two earned - in five innings of a 7-1 defeat to the Yankees, he was pulled in the fourth Saturday after giving up three runs and seven hits in a 4-2 loss to San Diego.
Chicago has a 1.80 ERA while winning six of nine.
Erick Aybar has hit .357 with eight RBIs in his last seven games for the Angels, who are returning from a 3-7 road trip.
They've won six of eight at home and were 4-3 against the White Sox last year.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chicago White Sox
- Mike Trout
- Los Angeles Angels
- Jose Abreu