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Abreu rubbing off on teammates

Abreu rubbing off on Angels' teammates

ANAHEIM -- There are peers who respect Bobby Abreu -- that would include just about everybody in the sport -- and there are those who love the guy.

In the latter group are his new Angels teammates and some of those he left behind in New York when he signed a free-agent deal with the Halos over the winter.

"He's my favorite player," Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera said in Spanish. "That's why I took his number [53] 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."

From Yankees catcher Jose Molina, formerly of the Angels, gave a similar endorsement.

"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's impact on the Angels has been clearly felt on the field and in the clubhouse, where he is a lightning rod and fountain of knowledge for young players and veterans, such as Torii Hunter and Chone Figgins, alike.

Abreu came into Sunday's series finale against Yankees ace CC Sabathia batting .308 with 57 RBIs in 79 games. Since June 1, he leads the American League with 36 RBIs and has 39 in his past 37 games. He's fifth in the AL in on-base percentage at .406, has 19 steals in 22 attempts and is batting .380, third in the AL, with runners in scoring position.

With batting coach Mickey Hatcher and manager Mike Scioscia preaching plate discipline from day one of Spring Training, the Angels have improved significantly in that area. It was evident in the way they got Andy Pettitte out of Saturday's game after 4 1/3 innings en route to a 14-8 victory.

"That was something that was stressed all spring," said Brandon Wood, the Angels' young slugger. "Having Bobby around, you can see how helpful that has been. You're seeing guys show more patience than ever before -- even guys like Torii and Figgy. I've really seen it in Erick Aybar; he's never been this patient at the plate.

"All you have to do is watch Bobby to see how productive it is to wait for your pitch, to stay away from pitchers' pitches that bury you in counts. He's a master, and his impact is evident in the whole team, really."

Abreu's locker is next to Figgins, and they're always talking about game situations, pitchers' tendencies and moves, anything and everything related to the inner game.

"Bobby has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience," Figgins said. "It's not easy, believe me, to hit the way he does. It takes a lot of work, and it's hard to get it done in games.

"You have to spend time in the batting cage. 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."

Abreu might be the coolest guy in the game. He's always smiling, singing, bouncing around the clubhouse to his favorite tunes.

"I'm having a good time here," Abreu said. "It's been a lot of fun. I love the way this team plays the game, running the bases aggressively, hitting line drives, going first to third. And we have some guys who can drive the ball, too. It's a good lineup, a good offense."

And in the middle of it all is Abreu, one of the season's best bargains at $5 million.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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