About a week ago, the Bunsen burners and microscopes needed to conduct The Great Bobby Abreu Experiment had been all but packed away.
The 40-year-old former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder was hitting .111 and appeared to punch his ticket back to his home in Venezuela. Now all that is changed thanks to Darin Ruf’s strained right oblique muscle and some 11th-hour hitting by Abreu.
Ruf does not figure to be on the major-league roster and his spot could be taken by Abreu, who had a 3-for-4 day on Thursday to raise his spring average to .281. That could be enough for the Phillies to take Abreu on the roster, at least until Ruf can figure out what’s going on with his injury. Put it this way: Chase Utley had the same injury this time last spring and missed 28 games. Ruf is younger than Utley, but 28 days is over a month of games when it comes to April baseball.
Is this a good thing or not? I vote not simply because the team’s core already is aging. The Phillies need to add a young player to the mix, and bringing Abreu north better be a temporary move.
Now it’s down to three guys for one of the bench spots. Tony Gwynn Jr. is also hitting well and, if the Phillies are thinking, they should let Abreu go and give Gwynn a longer look.
For his part, Abreu should have been given the shortest leash. The Phillies need to keep as many of the young guys around as possible.