PHILADELPHIA -- The National League really had no choice on this one, considering the amazing May turned in by Bobby Abreu. So the Phillies right fielder was named the Bank of America NL Player of the Month on Thursday, following the greatest month of his Major League career. "He's been fantastic," said manager Charlie Manuel. "He deserves player of the month. He's done a little of everything. I take that back -- he did a whole lot of everything. He stole bases, got hits, played defense. He did what a tremendous player does. He's well deserving."
Abreu was the toughest out in baseball during a month in which he hit .396 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs, and also drew 30 walks and scored 22 runs. He was especially hot early last month when he homered in nine of 10 games and had a 13-game hitting streak. "I'm proud," Abreu said. "I'm going to keep doing my work and try to get it again. This year is a different year. I feel more comfortable, I have more confidence." Despite seven years of consistency, Abreu is having an even better season in 2005. He's started all 53 games. In the team's 28 games in May, Abreu reached base in all but one. Manuel compared him to Tony Oliva. "Both had good arms," Manuel said. "Bobby can hit to all fields and has power. He's a tremendous hitter, one of the best hitters in the league today." More impressive for Abreu is the fact that this production has come in lieu of Jim Thome, who spent half the month on the disabled list. Always steady, Abreu stepped up when the team most needed it. For those weeks, and perhaps more than ever, this is Abreu's team. "When Jim Thome got hurt, I was the one that carried the team for a while," Abreu said. "We have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things. I've prepared myself to do all those things. I handle it better now than I would at 25." At 31, Abreu feels he's at his peak. A first-time All-Star last season, he's sixth among outfielders through the early voting. Not bad, considering Philadelphia has had just nine home dates since in-stadium balloting began. Abreu can make up a lot of ground this month. A second appearance is something for which he strives. "It's important to go back," he said. "I had such a good time last year and I'd like to have it again. It was a beautiful experience. I want to go to Detroit." Individually, Abreu maintains his goal of winning a batting title. If the Phillies make serious hay this season, he might be a candidate for Most Valuable Player. Abreu just wants the chance to play in late October, and is content with the recent play of the Phillies, who are just 3 1/2 games out of first, despite being last in the NL East. "I think we'll get there. We started slow, but are playing well now," Abreu said. "We're relaxed. We can catch other teams. It's still early. We can do it. We can play better, and we have to. It's just a matter of doing it."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.