NEW YORK (AP) — Sitting behind a microphone in his New York Mets uniform, Bobby Abreu couldn’t help but get choked up as he bid goodbye to the game he loves.
“Adios,” he said, holding back tears.
In a news conference Friday at Citi Field, the 40-year-old Abreu announced his plans to retire after the season, ending perhaps one of the most underappreciated careers in recent memory.
Used almost exclusively as a pinch hitter in his final days with New York, Abreu thanked the Mets for the opportunity to complete his comeback and go out on his own terms _ wearing a big league uniform.
“I feel happy with my career. I feel blessed,” Abreu said. “For me as a baseball player, I (achieved) all my goals.”
Abreu was out of the majors last season, but played winter ball back home in Venezuela and went to spring training this year with Philadelphia. After getting cut by the Phillies, the outfielder signed a minor league deal with the Mets and was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas a couple of times.
A two-time All-Star who was a model of consistency in his prime, Abreu has quietly put up some marvelous numbers. He owns a .291 career batting average with 288 home runs and 1,363 RBIs. He has 2,469 hits and 400 stolen bases.
Known for his sharp eye and patience at the plate, Abreu has drawn 1,475 walks _ most among active players _ to help him compile an outstanding .395 career on-base percentage.
The only other players in major league history with 200 homers, 1,200 walks and 400 steals are Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson and Joe Morgan.
“He was probably a little bit underappreciated. But when it’s all said and done, I think the numbers are going to speak up for themselves,” said Mets manager Terry Collins, who was seated beside Abreu for his announcement.
Abreu noted he was happy that Collins, his first major league manager in Houston, also will be his last. And his final games will be against the Astros, who signed Abreu in 1990 and brought him to the majors six years later.
Collins and the Mets have credited Abreu with mentoring several of their young Latin players, in particular center fielder Juan Lagares. Abreu said he would like to become a hitting coach one day.
“I have a lot of fun with these young guys. They’re special,” Abreu said. “Even though I’m 40 years old, they make me feel young, being around with them and playing around. And at that point I realized, this game is now for the next generation. And I think I just got done, and that made me decide it’s time to say goodbye.”
Abreu was hitting .246 this season with a homer and 14 RBIs in 130 at-bats. He was 5 for 38 (.132) with four walks as a pinch hitter.
Omar Vizquel (2,877) and Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio (2,677) are the only Venezuelan-born players with more career hits.
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