Abreu Still Working Hard

Abreu is hitting .289 in his last 33 games

Despite missing all of the 2007 season, Michael Abreu is earning valuable time in Triple-A as he hopes to regain the offensive prowess that led him to an award winning season in 2006. Inside Pitch revisited with Abreu to see where he has come since the beginning of the season.

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The Mets organization has always had high expectations from Zephyrs' first baseman Michel Abreu. After starting off slow in April and only batting .194 in May, many would question the organization's persistency in keeping him in such a prominent position in the line up. However in June and in the early days of July, Abreu's performance at the plate has proven that he does indeed belong in the lineup.

The Mets signed Abreu in 2006 and after only playing two games in Single-A, he was promoted to Double-A where he received the Sterling Award for being the best player in the Mets' organization at that level. After such a successful season, the Cuban native's luck took a downwards turn as he was forced back to St. Lucie as his work visa expired. He spent 2007 away from professional baseball waiting to return to the United States.

Getting back into professional baseball, especially at the highest level in the minor leagues, after a year away from the game can take some time. Zephyrs' hitting coach Jack Voigt agrees that Abreu needed some warming up and getting used to being back in the Mets organization.

"He basically missed a whole year even though he was playing in Florida," Voigt said. "Two years ago he was the player of the year in the Mets organization in Double-A and when you sit out a year; you come back to Triple-A, its tough to get back into. I think he got himself back into it."

Abreu kept his focus during his dry hitting spell in the beginning of the season and now has gotten used to Triple-A competition.

"I stayed focused and kept working hard, going to the cage everyday and focusing on what I was doing well before. I watched videos of when he was playing in Cuba and kept working hard with Jack [Voigt]," Abreu said with Jesus Feliciano interpreting.

In the month of June, Abreu batted a .316 average, a massive improvement from May, and while getting used to playing American professional baseball may have been part of his slow start, improving his hitting technique also played a role in Abreu's batting average turnaround this season.

"We've made some adjustments with him as an organization on his hand position and grip. That has really allowed him to cover more of the plate and be able drive the ball the other way and create backspin, rather than the hook and top over spin," Voigt said.

Abreu also claims a small change in hand position while batting is a major contributing factor to his improved batting average.

"I worked a little bit with my hands, and started hitting the ball the other way. Early in the season I wasn't pulling enough or else pulling too much. Since I've started hitting the ball the other way, that is what started making me successful," Abreu said.

The hand position change on the bat however is not a miracle cure for Abreu's batting woes. He still needs improvement if he is looking to join the Mets up in Shea.

"It is [the new hand position] still not as consistent as he'd like and we would like it to be, but its much better," Voigt said.

Abreu also sees the need to continue to work on his new grip and get more comfortable with being on the plate in Triple-A.

"I need to keep working hard, coming to the ballpark everyday. Keep hitting the ball the other way. I am staying focused and not losing concentration. I started slow, but I'm still working on improving," Abreu said.

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