ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Bobby Abreu has been scorching the baseball lately, with a .455 batting average in the last six games.
But the best thing he did for the Los Angeles Angels last week might have been far from the batter’s box. It was a conversation that took place in the Angels clubhouse. First baseman Kendry Morales, mired in a .216 slump to start the season, approached the 13-year veteran for advice.
Abreu actually chuckled when somebody asked him if he spends much time talking to Morales.
“I always check on him,” Morales said. “Whenever he’s rushing or trying to pull the ball, I just tell him some things to get him back, to be more patient. We don’t want him to get in a slump.”
As hot as Abreu has been, he’s looked glacial compared with the Cuban defector. Morales was the AL player of the week after batting .591 (13-for-22) with three home runs and 10 RBIs in the past six games.
The crowning moment of Morales’ progress as a hitter might have been in Sunday’s game when he got to a 3-and-0 count against New York Yankees left-hander Damaso Marte and clubbed a three-run home run. A year ago, Morales, a switch hitter, rarely played against left-handed pitchers. He was in a platoon with Robb Quinlan. Few of his at-bats got to the fourth pitch.
Morales made strides in the second half and worked all winter in Miami -- taking batting practice six days a week -- to refine his right-handed stroke. He also sought out his former hitting coach in Cuba, Miguel Valdez, who had also defected. Valdez filmed him and then tinkered with his right-handed stance.
Morales is batting .286 from the right side and .356 from the right. Two of his six home runs have come while hitting right-handed. Last year, he hit just four of his 34 home runs right-handed.
“This guy’s got a great swing from both sides. … There’s not going to be much difference when it’s all said and done, I don’t believe,” manager Mike Scioscia said.
You wouldn’t know it by the stats -- Morales has walked just twice this year -- but Abreu’s advice during that conversation was to show more patience in the batter’s box.
“He’s waiting for his pitch and he isn’t missing it,” Abreu said.