Astros to option slumping 2020 AL MVP José Abreu to their spring training facility in Florida

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros will option slumping first baseman José Abreu to their spring training facility to try and help the 2020 AL MVP get back on track.

General manager Dana Brown made the announcement Tuesday, saying Houston would make the move Wednesday. The 37-year-old will report to the Astros' complex in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Brown said the decision was made after a meeting that included himself, Abreu, coaches and front-office personnel.

Abreu, in the second season of a $58.5 million, three-year contract, is batting .099 with just one extra-base hit and three RBIs. In 77 plate appearances across 22 games this season, Abreu has just seven hits.

Brown said Abreu was very receptive during their conversation and had a good attitude about the move.

“José Abreu is an outstanding human being,” Brown said. “He is unselfish and he’s a teammates guy and he wants to get himself back to what he was doing last fall. And so, in the midst of this conversation, you could see that this guy is passionate and determined to get back to helping his team.

“And so he unselfishly was on board with an agreement with going back to West Palm Beach and getting some extra at-bats, getting some detailed instruction on what we could do to get him back,” Brown continued.

The Astros selected the contract of Joey Loperfido from Triple-A Sugar Land on Tuesday and he will likely play some first base, but Brown indicated that he’d mostly be used in the outfield. The 24-year-old was set to make his major league debut Tuesday night against the Guardians in left field, leaving Jon Singleton to fill in for Abreu at first base. Singleton entered Tuesday hitting .238 with no RBIs.

Manager Joe Espada said Mauricio Dubón, who won a Gold Glove as a utility player last season, could also play first.

“He’s someone that can play all three,” Espada said. “We know his versatility. He’s a Gold Glove defender anywhere you put him. So he will also get a look there at first base.”

Abreu was the 2014 AL Rookie of the Year and is a three-time All-Star and a three-time Silver Slugger award winner. He in his 11th big league season.

“He got to the point where he was frustrated,” Brown said. “It’s rare to do it. But I think it tells us about his dedication and commitment and I don’t think he sees this as a long-term and I don’t think we see it as a long-term thing. I think it’s more like ... let’s go down, let’s make some adjustments. Let’s get the rhythm and timing back. And I think in his eyes, he’s looking at it as ‘I’ll be back in a couple of weeks or whatever it takes to get better.’”

Abreu hit .237 with 18 home runs and 90 RBIs last season, his first in Houston after nine seasons with the Chicago White Sox. He had four homers and 13 RBIs in 11 postseason games.

“The bat speed is still pretty good,” Brown said. “So, we’ve got to get his timing right and we’ve got to get his rhythm right, so that he can consistently do it. And so I still feel very optimistic about it.”

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