Return to Bronx has given Yankees’ reliever Albert Abreu renewed confidence

Albert Abreu

Three days prior Albert Abreu had Tweeted out how grateful he was to be back in New York and how much he appreciated the support he felt from Yankees fans. On Monday night repaid the favor by throwing 2.1 scoreless innings of relief in New York’s come-from-behind win over the Oakland Athletics. 

After being claimed off waivers by the Yankees last week, Abreu has made two relief appearances with his second standing out. Abreu came into the game after starter Jordan Montgomery got the first two batters out in the seventh, striking out four and picking up the win. 

“When the news came that I was going to come back and join the team again it felt like hope,” Abreu said. “Like I was getting hope again. I had lost my confidence and just walking into the stadium here, and walking through those doors, I felt a rush of energy. Positive energy and it just let me know that this is where I belong. I felt like a different person right there just walking through this clubhouse.”

For Yankee pitchers this season, second stints with the team have appeared to go quite well. Abreu had been traded just before the start of this season in a deal with the Texas Ranger for catcher Jose Trevino. 

Abreu struggled with Texas in 8.2 innings pitched in relief and a 3.12 ERA. In a short stopover in Kansas City, things didn’t get much better and he was eventually designated for assignment. 

The 26-year-old reliever had been in a regular out of the Yankees bullpen in 2021, but he struggled in the Bronx as well. He appeared in 36.2 innings for the Yankees and finished the season with a 5.15 ERA.

Still, the Bronx has given Abreu a feeling of comfort and that has shown in his two outings since his return. He credited that to the coaching staff and players around him. 

“We have a really good clubhouse,” Abreu said. “Previous years I’ve felt very, very comfortable with the guys in this room. The friendships and I just feel it’s the right place for me. In an environment like this, I really do feel that I can thrive and I can help out.” 

The change in Abreu has certainly caught the attention of manager Aaron Boone, who described the relief appearance on Monday as great. 

“He was pounding the strike zone,” Boone said. “You see what he’s capable of when he’s pounding the strike zone. He’s efficient, his stuff was really good and it’s seven big outs.”

Command had been Abreu’s biggest issue over the course of his big league career. He walked 12 batters during his time in Texas and another four in the brief stint in Kansas City. 

Last season with the Yankees the issue was there as well, with Abreu walking 19 batters, but pitching coach Matt Blake has started to work with him to try to cut down the number of walks. 

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“I think it was very simple. He brought out positive points from last season,” Abreu said of working with Blake. “He was very clear and it was just a very positive conversation of how to get back to what we were doing here that worked. Like I said, a lot of positive reinforcement from him and just using that.” 

Abreu’s renewed confidence can only be a benefit for the Yankees and their bullpen which will finally start to see some reinforcements back in the near future. Aroldis Chapman is expected to rejoin the team after completing a rehab assignment in Triple-A on Tuesday in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.