NEW YORK -- When Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens managed Bobby Abreu in the Venezuelan Winter League, he saw all the tools that once made Abreu one of the most disciplined hitters of his generation.
"He's not an everyday guy anymore, but he'll give you a good at-bat," Hudgens said of Abreu, whom the Mets signed to a Minor League contract earlier this week. "He can be a good guy off the bench, plus he's a good influence on some of the young guys, as far as how to take an at-bat, how not to panic, not going out of the strike zone -- the kind of things we like to teach."
Hudgens pointed to Abreu's winter ball at-bats against Henderson Alvarez, Edgmer Escalona and other big league pitchers as evidence that the 40-year-old can still succeed at baseball's highest level. Still, for right now, the Mets have no long-term plans for Abreu. They will simply send him to Triple-A Las Vegas and, if he performs well, consider using him as a reserve later this season.
"He's somebody that we think, conceivably at some point, could be a guy off the bench," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "He's got a great approach at the plate. So at this point, signing him to a contract to Las Vegas was attractive to us."