When the Yankees traded Albert Abreu to the Rangers in April, the right-handed reliever felt lost.
So, when the Yankees claimed Abreu off waivers from the Royals last week, Abreu began to feel like himself again.
“It felt like I was getting hope again,” said Abreu, who pitched 2 ¹/₃ hitless innings in relief and picked up the win in the Yankees’ comeback victory Monday night. “I had lost my confidence.
“And just walking into that stadium … I felt a rush of positive energy and it just let me know that this is where I belong. I felt like a different person.”
That rejuvenation has manifested itself in a pair of spotless performances. In two appearances since rejoining the Yankees, Abreu has tossed 3 ¹/₃ scoreless innings.
“He’s pounding the strike zone,” Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone said. “He showed what he’s capable of when he’s pounding the strike zone. He was efficient. Stuff was really good. Those were seven big outs.”
Against Oakland, Abreu pitched so well that Boone didn’t even bother beckoning another reliever to warm up. He trusted Abreu to preserve the four-run lead, and the 26-year-old made good on his manager’s vote of confidence.
Abreu established himself as a familiar face in the Yankees’ bullpen during the 2021 season, though the results were subpar. He finished the year with a 5.15 ERA and 19 walks in just 36 ²/₃ innings.
Boasting a deep bullpen, the Yankees dealt Abreu to Texas on the dawn of the 2022 season, dealing from a position of strength to shore up catching depth, acquiring Jose Trevino.
With the Rangers, Abreu’s command issues persisted; he issued 12 walks in 8 ²/₃ innings. Then, during a brief stint with the Royals, Abreu pitched to a 4.15 ERA, leading him to be designated for assignment by Kansas City which opened the door for a Bronx reunion.
In his first meeting with Abreu, Yankees’ pitching coach Matt Blake stressed positive reinforcement.
“I think it was very simple,” Abreu said. “He brought out positive points from last season. He was very clear. And it was just a very positive conversation on how to get back to what we were doing here.”
So far, Abreu resembles a different pitcher. He has allowed three base runners in those two appearances — one hit and two walks — but worked around the traffic with ease.
And if Abreu can continue to parlay his newfound confidence into success on the mound, this reunion may very well be mutually beneficial.
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