Abreu Almost Breaks Strikeout Record

COLUMBUS, OH - Winston Abreu has been on a hot streak recently and came close to breaking a 45-year-old record this week.  The International League record was for the number of strikeouts in nine innings, which is held by former Jets' player, Bob Veale. (Free Preview!)

Winston Abreu started his baseball career with multiple injuries.  In 1997, he underwent "Tommy John" surgery and missed the entire season.  Then in 2000, he was put on the DL with a sore right shoulder.  However, Abreu has overcome those injuries and is having one of the best seasons of his career.

"It was a rough time and I experienced a lot of pain and rehab," Abreu told CapitolDugout.com.  "But I worked through the pain and kept practicing.  I think practicing is what got me through it, and I keep working hard so it doesn't bother me." 

Abreu's good health, the past few years, has allowed him to develop a good pitching routine.  His favorite pitch is his fastball, but he also enjoys changing it up and throwing his slider. When it comes t his curveball, Abreu has a very interesting technique.  He throws it by lifting his index finger off the ball.  He picked up this technique during his experiences playing in other leagues in Venezuela and Mexico.

"I learned to throw it that way in Venezuela and Mexico," Abreu said.  "I went to play in Venezuela for winter league and use to play catch with Francisco Rodriguez.  He showed me a different way to hold the ball and I kind of got the idea from that.  Then, I went to Mexico and the pitching coach there helped me with it.  I practiced it a lot and from last year to this year, it has gotten much better."

Abreu puts in a lot of time and energy into practicing and tries to be the best he can be.  Not only does he play during the regular season, March to September, but also plays in winter leagues.  He feels that playing all the time will help improve his skills.

"I play in a lot of different leagues so I can get better," Abreu stated.  "Sometimes I get tired because I practice, practice, practice, so I will take a little rest, but its not for long, then I get right back to practicing so I can improve."

That practice has paid off for Abreu.  Abreu is close to breaking the IL record for the most strikeouts in nine innings.  Currently, Bob Veale holds the record at 22.  Veale, a former Columbus Jet, set the record on August 10, 1962 in a game against Buffalo.  Coming into last night's game, Abreu had struck out 18 hitters in 7 2/3 innings.  However, Abreu doesn't let the chance of breaking Veale's record interfere with his game.

"If I beat his record, then I beat it, I'll take it," Abreu said jokingly.  "But when I go out there all I think about is striking them out.  I don't go up there to play around, I go to throw a quick strike."

Abreu pitched the 8th and 9th inning of last nights' game and struck-out three, putting his total up to 21 strikeouts in nine innings.  Although he fell short of breaking the record last night, he helped the Clippers capture another win.  His chance to break the record is not over yet either, and will probably break it in one of his upcoming games.

Breaking the record might be exactly what Abreu needs to get attention and maybe get another chance at the major leagues.  But for now, he is happy closing the game for the Clippers.  He will continue to wait and see if this big accomplishment develops into any other opportunities. 

"I just need to be patient, wait, practice, and keep doing my thing."

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