Boise Hawks outfielder Willie Abreu has learned the importance of routine in his first two weeks as a professional baseball player. So he starts each day the same way — with a call to his parents.
Before he gets out of bed, the Rockies’ sixth-round draft pick in June either calls home to FaceTime (video chat) his Cuban immigrant parents, or they are already on the line calling him.
“You never know what the next day is going to be like, so I make sure I cherish every moment I have with them or without them,” Abreu said. “We’re put in a situation now in this day and age where we can communicate so easily. So I take advantage of it, every bit of it.”
The calls have taken on extra importance to the 21-year-old after his mom, Rosy, suffered a massive stroke May 25, 2015, the morning after Abreu and his University of Miami teammates returned from the ACC Tournament.
Abreu slept by his mother’s side at the hospital while leading Miami through the NCAA regionals and super regionals on its way to the 2015 College World Series. And when doctors asked Abreu and his sister Janelle to remove his mother’s jewelry, Abreu took to wearing his mother’s wedding ring on a chain around his neck.
“It was something really amazing to be able to take her wherever I went,” he said. “She was a big traveler. She used to like to travel to all of my games. It was pretty special to be able to still take her in a way to all the spots I went.”
Abreu returned that ring for safekeeping after it popped off his neck this spring and his mother continued to improve. She remains in a wheelchair, but she is progressing through physical therapy to begin to walk and can eat solid food again.
Abreu said his mother’s positive attitude throughout her recovery has rubbed off on him and keeps any 0-for-4 days at the plate in perspective.
“This has taught me a lot of positivity and to be able to go through life with a positive attitude, because that’s how my mom is,” he said. “She’s doing great, and she’s just getting better every day. That’s what I try to do — get better every day and be a good person and continue my path to wherever life takes me.”
Abreu hasn’t encountered many struggles in his first eight games after joining the Hawks late due to his second straight trip to the College World Series. He’s hitting .281 with two home runs and eight RBIs, and his .531 slugging percentage would rank fourth in the Northwest League if he played enough games.
“He’s a guy with some power, and defensively he’s been doing a great job,” Boise manager Andy Gonzalez said. “We’re just letting him go about his business and show what he’s capable of doing.”
Abreu has credited his routine with helping him make the transition from college to the pros. That routine can change if his sister, who runs the FaceTime calls for his parents, needs to leave the house in the morning, creating some early wake-up calls in the Mountain time zone.
“I’ve got to wake up, which is cool,” Abreu said. “It’s good to be able to communicate and always be able to talk to her. I cherish that. That means a lot to me, family and friends of that nature.
“Baseball is going to come, and it’s going to go eventually. But that’s one part I’m never going to lose — family and the values that we have.”
SPOKANE ROUGHS UP HERNANDEZ
Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez made a rehab start with the Everett AquaSox on Sunday, and Hernandez’s first outing after a right calf strain sent him to the disabled list didn’t go well for the AquaSox in Everett’s 7-6 win. Spokane tagged Hernandez for three runs on six hits in 3 ⅔ innings in front of 5,189 fans. Hernandez walked two and struck out six for Everett, whose pitching coach is Hernandez’s older brother, Moises Hernandez.
Hawks rained out
Sunday’s rain forced the Boise Hawks to postpone their scheduled game with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The two will play a doubleheader of two seven-inning games Monday starting at 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. Tickets for Sunday’s game can be exchanged at the Memorial Stadium box office for tickets of equal or lesser value.