Jose Abreu - The next Cuban sensation

Every day, Jose Abreu talks with Daysi Correa. She is why he's here. When he was thinking of defecting from Cuba – of leaving behind the only place he'd ever known, the only people who mattered to him, for the glory and riches of Major League Baseball – his mother offered her blessing. Go, she said. Chase your dream.

"It's not my dream," Abreu says today. "It's my family's."

Before Abreu defected, he told his mother to pick his jersey number. She chose 79, a number believed to have been worn just twice before in major league history. Every time Abreu looks at his jersey, he says, "She's always near me."
Jeff Passan

Chicago Whte Sox Photo Day

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 22: Jose Abreu #79 of the Chicago White Sox poses for a portrait on photo day at the Glendale Sports Complex on February 22, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu hits a two-run double against the Cleveland Indians during an exhibition baseball game in Goodyear, Ariz., Tuesday, March 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu poses for a photo during baseball spring training photo day Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu watches during spring training baseball practice in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu bats during spring training baseball practice in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu tosses the ball during spring training baseball practice in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu runs during spring training baseball practice in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu sits in the dugout during spring training baseball practice in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Jose Abreu hits a grand slam during the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Another angle of the grand slam.

Here is another angle of the grand slam.

Jose Abreu hits his 35th home run of the season in Cuba.

Cuba v Netherlands - World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 11: Infielder Jose Abreu #79 of Cuba celerates after scoring in the top half of the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1 game between Cuba and the Netherlands at Tokyo Dome on March 11, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

Chinese Taipei v Cuba - World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 09: Jose Abreu # 79 celebrates with Wilber Perez # 75 of Cuba after two run home run in the sixth inning during the World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1 game between Chinese Taipei and Cuba at Tokyo Dome on March 9, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Chinese Taipei v Cuba - World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 09: Infielder Jose Abreu #79 of Cuba celerates after scoring during the World Baseball Classic Second Round Pool 1 game between Chinese Taipei and Cuba at Tokyo Dome on March 9, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

Japan v Cuba - World Baseball Classic First Round Group A

FUKUOKA, JAPAN - MARCH 06: Infielder Jose Abreu #79 of Cuba slides in to second during the World Baseball Classic First Round Group A game between Japan and Cuba at Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome on March 6, 2013 in Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

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Cuba's Jose Abreu hits a grand slam against China during the fifth inning of their first-round Pool A game in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Fukuoka on March 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba's Jose Abreu (C, rear) is congratulated by teammates after his grand slam against China during the fifth inning of their first-round Pool A game in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Fukuoka on March 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba'a Jose Abreu reacts after his solo home run against the Netherlands during the fourth inning of their second-round Pool 1 game in the World Baseball Classic tournament at Tokyo Dome on March 11, 2013. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba's Jose Abreu (2nd R) comes into home after hitting a grand slam as China's catcher Meng Weiqiang (L) and pitcher Liu Yu (2nd L) look on during the fifth inning of their first-round Pool A game in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Fukuoka on March 4, 2013. Cuba beat China 12-0 with a called game at the seventh inning. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba's infielder Jose Abreu (L) makes a two-run homer as Taiwan's catcher Kao Chih-Kang looks on during the sixth innings of their second-round Pool 1 game in the World Baseball Classic tournament at Tokyo Dome on March 9, 2013. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba's infielder Jose Abreu (C) and his teammates high five each other after their winning game against China at the first-round Pool A game in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Fukuoka on March 4, 2013. Cuba beat China 12-0 with a called game at the seventh inning. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba's Jose Abreu hits a grand slam against China during the fifth inning of their first-round Pool A game in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Fukuoka on March 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba's Jose Abreu (R) celebrates with a coach after his grand slam against China during the fifth inning of their first-round Pool A game in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Fukuoka on March 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba's Jose Abreu reacts after his grand slam against China during the fifth inning of their first-round Pool A game in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Fukuoka on March 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba's Jose Abreu (R) bats as catcher Diego Franca (L) of Brazil looks on during the sixth inning of their first-round Pool A game in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Fukuoka on March 3, 2013. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba's Jose Abreu (C) comes into home after hitting a grand slam as his teammate Alfredo Despaigne (L) welcomes him during the fifth inning of their first-round Pool A game in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Fukuoka on March 4, 2013. Cuba beat China 12-0 with a called game at the seventh inning. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

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Cuba's Jose Abreu (R) is congratulated by teammates after his grand slam against China during the fifth inning of their first-round Pool A game in the World Baseball Classic tournament in Fukuoka on March 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images