09/23/09 3:20 AM ET
Abreu's influence not limited to Angels
From on-base skills to plate approach, veteran teaches much
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
The impact Abreu has had on his Angels teammates in his first season in Anaheim -- imparting quiet wisdom on a daily basis to younger athletes trying to figure things out -- is nothing new.
He performed the same function in New York with several of the Yankees' valuable young performers, notably Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano.
"He's my favorite player," Cabrera said in Spanish. "That's why I took his number  when he left. He taught me so much -- not just me, but other guys on the team, too, like Robinson Cano. We miss having him around. He's a great guy."
Yankees catcher Jose Molina, formerly with the Angels, watched Abreu at work last season.
"Bobby's the kind of guy you love to have on your team -- and hate to play against," Molina said. "He's not only a great player. He's a great teammate."
Abreu took his leadership across the continent, but he still keeps close tabs on his old amigos in the Big Apple.
"It was pretty much the same there as it is here," Abreu said. "Melky would come to me, and we'd talk about situations in the game -- what he needs to do to be a better player. I told him, 'You have the ability -- you've got to learn how to use it.'
"He has so much talent. He's an outstanding outfielder with a strong, accurate arm, and he's got power from both sides. With a guy like Melky, what he needed was the opportunity to play every day. It's like [Kendry] Morales here, and [Erick] Aybar -- some of the other young guys.
"Cano, he can hit. He was struggling last year like everybody does at times, but there was never a doubt about him. He's got a lot of confidence. No problem."
Morales, whose emergence as a complete player at first base has been one of the stories of the Angels' season, took flight in the second half when, with Abreu's guidance, he became less aggressive at the plate.
"He's learned a lot -- and he's still learning how and when to be aggressive," Abreu said. "Once he got control of his aggressiveness with runners on base and wasn't trying too hard, that's when it came together for him."
Abreu has been a lightning rod and fountain of knowledge for young players and veterans alike.
"He's like Garret [Anderson]," Chone Figgins said. "I had Garret next to me [in the clubhouse], and now I have Bobby. They're very similar in the way they have all this knowledge and are able to share it and make you better without changing you.
"Bobby's able to explain things to guys in simple terms they understand. There was something I was trying to get better at -- and here was Bobby, right next to me, to help me get there."
Figgins has succeeded in lifting his on-base percentage from .356 lifetime coming into the season to .396, in no small measure owing to Abreu's influence.
"Bobby has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience," Figgins said. "It's not easy to hit the way he does. It takes a lot of work.
"The big thing is, you have to become confident hitting behind in the count. You have to be willing to take that close 1-1 pitch to get to 2-1 and be confident you can hit with two strikes."
That same brand of Abreu counsel helped make Cabrera and Cano, to name a few, highly productive Yankees.
Asked whether the possibility of meeting his old friends from New York in a postseason showdown had crossed his mind, Abreu grinned.
"Who knows?" Abreu said.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.