Chicago White Sox slugger José Abreu is already thinking about the next season.
The Cuban first baseman and 2014 American League Rookie of the Year isn't pondering his fielding or his batting average – a solid .292 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs this season – but, instead, how he communicates to his teammates. More specifically, what language he uses with his teammates.
"That's my goal. I want to be a leader and I know that for that, I have to learn the language," Abreu said through an interpreter Tuesday, according to ESPN. "And that's my focus for this off-season.”
He added: “It's one of the things that I have on my list. I know if I can learn a little bit more of the language, I can express myself in a better way with my teammates and my coaches. It's going to help our relationship."
Abreu, who has a November wedding in the works, also said last season that he wanted to improve his English language skills, but his off-season improvements appeared to be limited to what goes on on the field. Now, however, he says that he sees the respect and leadership roles of other Latino players in the league who speak English and wants to be more like them.
"I think that Alexei [Ramirez], Melky [Cabrera], [Adam] LaRoche, [Gordon] Beckham, they all have the voice to be leaders. And during this season, they have been doing [those] things because they also have the experience," Abreu said. "But I think each one of us has to be a leader. It's not just one person. I think that all of us, we have to work together and be a leader every day."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura said that Abreu's work ethic and on-field demeanor are already prime examples of his leadership skills on the team, but Ventura applauded Abreu's desire to have a better grasp of the English language.
"It's a good thing to hear because we know how he operates," Ventura said. "We know how he comes in every day and how he prepares and how he plays the game. Any time a guy like that wants to step up and lead, we're happy to hear that."