Abreu joins elite company with 250th homer
Slugger is sixth player to achieve offensive benchmarks
CHICAGO -- Some home cooking -- Ozzie Guillen style -- might have fueled fellow Venezuelan Bobby Abreu, who joined an elite club on Thursday.
Unloading career homer No. 250 leading off the fifth inning against White Sox southpaw John Danks, Abreu became the sixth player in Major League history to combine 250 homers with at least 2,000 hits, 1,000 runs scored, 1,000 RBIs and 300 steals.
Heading the exclusive club are Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Joe Morgan and Rickey Henderson, with Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio rounding out the membership.
"It's meaningful because of all those great names," Abreu said, "and also because it shows that I've been a complete player in my career. The 1,000 runs scored and RBIs are what the game is all about, so I'm very proud of that and very proud and excited to be in that club with some special men."
The ball that carried over the fence was retrieved and handed to Abreu, who carefully packed it in his briefcase for the trip home.
The homer, an opposite-field drive to left at U.S. Cellular Field, was Abreu's ninth of the season, and he leads the club with 77 RBIs.
"That speaks volumes to Bobby's talent," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of the latest milestone. "That's pretty select company there. Bobby's a terrific player. He's an elite player."
White Sox manager Guillen is close with Abreu, who often refers to "Ozzie" in conversation.
"Maybe because he was eating at my house every day," Guillen said, asked why Abreu has abused his team. "I tried to take him out last night and it didn't work either.
"Abreu's a great hitter. He's been great all his career, and he makes everybody around him better, too, there's no question. But he's comfortable at the plate, and we just made the wrong pitches. He's not chasing bad pitches, and you're going to get pitches to hit."
Abreu, signed to a one-year, $5 million free-agent contract in February, continues to make a convincing case for Most Valuable Player consideration.
Abreu ranks among the American League leaders in batting (.322), on-base percentage (.416) and RBIs. He has stolen 23 bases in 28 attempts and has been solid defensively in right field with Vladimir Guerrero's injuries confining him to full-time designated-hitter status.
Much of the credit for the Angels' vastly improved offense has gone to Abreu, who has been a source of wisdom and entertainment for young teammates.
The Angels have gone from seventh in batting average in 2008 (.268) to first in the Majors (.288). They have gone from 11th in on-base percentage (.330) to second (.352) in the AL. They have advanced from ninth in slugging (.413) to third (.447) in the AL.
"I'm hitting the ball the other way more now," Abreu said. "Usually, I use the other field [right], but I'm not trying to pull the ball. I'm just using my hands and reacting to the ball."
Abreu had no idea he was about to join such famous company until someone let him know.
"It surprised me," he said. "I didn't even know. I don't really check the numbers. When they told me I needed one more homer to get in that group, I was excited. I'm very happy to be in that group."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.