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Angels Notebook

Abreu filled a need - and the bases

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / October 12, 2009

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The Angels wanted to retain Mark Teixeira for the middle of their order but lost him on the free agent market to the Yankees. General manager Tony Reagins considered several other options before, almost begrudgingly, signing Bobby Abreu to a one-year deal worth $5 million.

The bargain signing came on the verge of spring training as both sides waited, Abreu for a better offer and the Angels for a better player.

“We had Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and so on. Bobby was on our list. We expected he would be a good contributor,’’ Reagins said. “But he really changed our team.’’

Abreu was 5 for 9 with two doubles, four runs, four walks, and an RBI in the three-game sweep of the Red Sox in the Division Series. No MVP is awarded for this round of the postseason, but if there were, Abreu would have been the leading candidate.

“I love the guy,’’ said third baseman Chone Figgins. “He is a big reason we got here.’’

Abreu hit .293 with 103 RBIs and 96 runs in the regular season. But it was his patience at the plate, as evidenced by his 94 walks, that helped change the face of a lineup that was notorious for its overanxiousness.

Abreu drew four walks in Game 1, then had five hits in the next two games. He singled to center field in the first inning yesterday, then took second when first baseman Kevin Youkilis failed to catch a pickoff throw from Clay Buchholz. Youkilis was charged with an error.

Abreu grounded a ball hard down the first base line in the eighth. Youkilis had a play on it, but the ball ticked off his glove and rolled into the photographer’s pit adjacent to the Sox dugout. After what was ruled a double, Abreu scored on Juan Rivera’s two-out single.

“My job is to get on base and see what happens. It was a good series,’’ Abreu said. “This team, it has been a great fit all season. Now we have a chance to keep going and maybe get to the World Series.’’

Abreu spent parts of three seasons with the Yankees and hoped to stay in New York. But he was not offered arbitration last December despite having hit .296 with 20 homers and 100 RBIs.

“It would be fun to play the Yankees, I have a lot of friends there,’’ Abreu said. “I’ve been thinking all year that I would like to play them in the playoffs.’’

Nice try
The Red Sox tweaked the Angels a bit before the game by having Dave Henderson throw out the first pitch. Henderson hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 1986 American League Championship Series that helped the Sox to an unlikely victory and then a berth in the World Series.

“That was terrible,’’ Torii Hunter said. “But I love Dave Henderson, he was one of my favorite players. You probably shouldn’t have brought him out. That was bad luck, I guess.’’

Sweep success
The Angels never before had engineered a postseason sweep . . . Angels starter Scott Kazmir allowed five runs in six innings. He has a 3.59 ERA in 23 regular-season starts against Boston, 5.51 in three postseason starts . . . With the Dodgers having advanced to the NLCS, several Angels were asked about the idea of a Freeway World Series. “Too early to talk about that,’’ said righthander John Lackey. “But that would be pretty cool. We can play baseball out West.’’ Said manager Mike Scioscia: “We’re going to have our hands full whoever we end up playing in the championship series. I’ll leave it to the fans and the writers to talk about all that stuff.’’

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