Jose Abreu, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a left ankle injury since May 18, will return to the White Sox lineup Monday night in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.
Abreu began his first Major League season on a torrid pace, hitting 15 homers and tallying 42 RBIs en route to being named the American League Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month for April before being shelved with the injury. The 27-year-old rookie sensation led the league in homers when he was placed on the DL.
After playing in simulated games on Saturday and Sunday, the club cleared the slugger to return. Manager Robin Ventura said the biggest challenge Abreu will face will be rediscovering his timing at the plate.
"That's why guys usually go on rehab assignments, just to get your eyes and the hand-eye coordination of seeing Major League pitching," Ventura said. "You know, that's always going to be an adjustment coming back. Some guys do it quicker than other guys."
Abreu's return comes at a good time for a White Sox offense that has slowed from its high-scoring early season ways lately. Chicago is fifth in the league in runs scored, but the White Sox have been held under five runs in eight of their last 10 games and averaged just 3.38 runs per game in the 13 games Abreu missed.
"I'm anxious to get started," Abreu said. "I'm ready."
He'll have to be, with reigning National League Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw as Monday night's opposition. Welcome back.
"It's true, he's one of the best pitchers out there in the game," Abreu said, "but he's got to do a job and I've got to do mine too. I know somebody's going to come ahead and let's hope it's on our side."
After being sidelined by a left shoulder injury earlier this season, Kershaw (3-2, 3.57 ERA) has regained his Cy Young level through five post-disabled list starts. Aside from getting shelled to the tune of seven runs in 1 1/2 innings on May 17 against Arizona, Kershaw has been tagged for just six earned runs in 27 innings.
Chris Sale was originally slated to start Monday, setting up a matchup between arguably the game's two best left-handed starters, but the clash of aces was nixed when Ventura moved Sale to Sunday, bouncing Jose Quintana (3-4, 3.61 ERA) back to Monday night's start.
Quintana has consistently given the Sox a chance to win in his starts this season, surrendering more than three earned runs just once and failing to make it to at least the sixth inning just twice in 11 starts. He'll have a tough task Monday as the Dodgers are seventh in the league in runs scored.
White Sox: Former Cuban teammates reunite
Monday marks both a return and a reunion for Abreu.
When Abreu takes the field at Dodger Stadium, it will be against his former teammate in Cuba, Yasiel Puig. The two played together on Cienfuegos in the Cuban League.
"It's a normal day. We're going to take it like a normal day in the past," Abreu said of playing against Puig. "It's good to play against friends. He's a friend of mine. There's another guy there that is an infielder, Erisbel Arruebarrena, who played on the same team in Cuba. I'm looking forward to really saying hello to them."
Puig dominated upon making his debut, earning National League Rookie and Player of the Month honors in June 2013, his first month in the Majors. Abreu matched his former teammate, winning both awards for the American League in his debut month of April 2014, making him just the second player after Puig to win both league awards in their first full month in the Major Leagues.
They'll be happier to see each other than the pitchers are.
Dodgers: Ramirez on a tear
Hanley Ramirez is smashing his way out of an early-season slump.
With six consecutive hits on Friday and Saturday, the 30-year-old has raised his batting average 20 points to .265.
It has finally put a smile on his face.
"That's why I haven't been smiling," Ramirez said. "Nothing to smile about. When I go, the team [goes]. I haven't been going lately. I have responsibility -- everybody on the team has it -- for our job and the fans of L.A. Don't just come to play the game; come to win every day. That's what you're paid for -- to win a championship."
Manager Don Mattingly thinks the more upright stance Ramirez used on Friday night has his star shortstop headed in the right direction.
"Obviously, it looked like he found something," Mattingly said. "It looked like he was taller."
• He receives much less fanfare than his fellow Cuban countrymen who will be inside Dodger Stadium on Monday, but Alexei Ramirez is having a career year, hitting a career-best .329 while being on pace to eclipse the 20-homer mark for the second time in his career and the 100-RBI mark for the first time.
• Yasiel Puig tied the Dodgers' record for May hits with 43, going 1-for-4 on Saturday night. He also reached base safely for the 33rd consecutive game Sunday, going 2-for-4 with his 15th double of the season.
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.