Jose Abreu is third-fastest in MLB history to reach 30 career home runs

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White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu homered and knocked in three runs in last night’s 8-3 victory over the Twins at Target Field. In doing so, he became the first player in the majors to reach 30 home runs this season. The rookie slugger is also now is some historic territory.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Abreu is the third-fastest in MLB history to reach 30 career home runs. Rudy York needed 79 games to get there in 1937 while Mark McGwire got there in 84 games in 1987. Abreu needed 89 games. Ryan Braun was previously third on the list, as he got there in 94 games in 2007.

Abreu is also the third Cuban-born rookie to reach 30 home runs in a season. Jose Canseco (1986) and Tony Oliva (1964) are the others.

Abreu joined the White Sox on a six-year, $68 million contract over the winter and has quickly made that look like a bargain. The 27-year-old is first in the majors in home runs and slugging percentage (.610) and second in RBI (77). Despite all his success, he’s managed to remain pretty humble about it. Check out these quotes from Abreu after last night’s game, courtesy of Nate Gotlieb of CSNChicago.com:

“I knew that I was going to have some good results,” he said through Lino Diaz, the White Sox manager of cultural development, “but I definitely wasn’t thinking 30 home runs right away.”

“I am very, very thankful for the things life has given me, and this is one of them,” he said. “So I’m very thankful to be able to do that, and I am also very thankful to all of the people that have helped me one way or another to be able to do this, so, you know, all I can tell you is that I’m proud of it, and as long as we can keep playing good and helping the team, that’ll be great.”

MLB, MLBPA grant Pirates exemption for Jung Ho Kang to participate in Dominican Winter League

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.

Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.

Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.

Nationals do not activate Bryce Harper for Monday’s game

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The Nationals were expected to activate outfielder Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list in advance of Monday’s series opener in Philadelphia, but they did not because Harper woke up with flulike symptoms, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. It doesn’t have anything to do with the knee injury which sent him to the DL last month or the ensuing rehab, he adds.

Rain had fallen in Washington, D.C. on August 12 ahead of the Nationals’ game against the Giants. Harper attempted to beat out a ground out to first base but slipped on the wet first base bag and was later diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee.

Harper was in the midst of a great season prior to the injury, perhaps one that would have led to an NL MVP Award. When he comes back, he’ll do what he can to pad his .326/.419/.614 slash line along with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances. The Nationals are just concerned with getting him back in the flow of things in time for the playoffs. They have seven games remaining in the regular season.