University of Miami

Willie Abreu stays positive for UM baseball team during difficult time

UM outfielder Willie Abreu, who is preparing for this weekend’s Super Regional, is also dealing with his mother’s illness.
UM outfielder Willie Abreu, who is preparing for this weekend’s Super Regional, is also dealing with his mother’s illness. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Willie Abreu and his Miami Hurricanes teammates spent some time during Wednesday’s practice giving back to the community.

Abreu arranged for a local special needs baseball team to watch practice and afterward play catch in the outfield and interact with the team.

“It wasn’t anything planned long term, it was like a two-days-ago thing,” Abreu said. “One of my buddies, Victor Fuentes, asked me … if they could bring these kids out to watch practice. We looked like little kids and had a great time. Our guys didn’t even know this was happening until the last minute. You could tell how much we appreciate doing something special for these kids.”

Abreu, a sophomore right fielder who hit a monstrous 450-plus-foot home run in the Hurricanes’ regional-clinching, 21-3 win over Columbia on Monday, has had a tough week.

His mother, Rosy, has been hospitalized for more than a week.

But as the Hurricanes prepare to take on Virginia Commonwealth (40-23) in this weekend’s Super Regional, Abreu’s heart and mind are in the right place.

“I’m in a good state of mind and doing something positive,” Abreu said. “Things are getting OK little by little.”

University of Miami outfielder Willie Abreu discusses this weekend's NCAA Super Regional against Virginia Commonwealth. Video by Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Abreu, a star at Mater Academy in Hialeah Gardens, did not want to share too many details about his mother’s condition, but said she has improved and has been following his and the Hurricanes’ progress throughout the postseason.

“She got sick and they had to do a little operation,” Abreu said. “The whole Canes family, from the fans to the administration to teammates to doctors, all have wanted to put their hand in this and help me.”

Abreu said his mother will be watching ESPN’s broadcast when UM (47-15), a No. 5 national seed, plays in its first Super Regional since 2010 beginning at noon Friday at Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park. Every game of the series is scheduled for a noon start. The first two will be broadcast on ESPNU with the third either on ESPNU or ESPN2.

“I just want to thank everybody who was here to see me last week and help me through this,” Abreu said.

The family atmosphere for Abreu didn’t start when he officially enrolled at UM.

Abreu is one of 17 players on the roster who went to either a Miami-Dade or Broward high school.

A first team All-Dade selection his senior season at Mater Academy, Abreu was one of five UM players to make the Coral Gables Regional All-Tournament team after driving in five runs Monday against Columbia.

Abreu was 6 years old the last time UM won a national championship.

“It’s pretty cool because on this team we were all competing against each other since a young age,” Abreu said. “We get to bring that competitive edge all on one team and throw it at somebody else. It’s pretty special.”

Abreu, who raised his average to .299 after Monday’s game, had been known to sport a Mohawk haircut. He recently cut it in honor of his mother, who has asked him to cut it in the past.

“This is actually one of the toughest weeks I’ve had in my whole life,” Abreu said after Monday’s game. “My mom got real sick and she had to be hospitalized [May 25], so this was for her. She had always told me, ‘Cut the Mohawk,’ and the procedure that they had to do, they had to cut her hair. So I did this for her.”

THIS AND THAT

▪ Morris said Wednesday he still had not set his rotation for the Super Regional. Morris did say it was “very likely” sophomore left-hander Danny Garcia would pitch if the series reached a decisive third game. Junior lefties Andrew Suarez (8-1, 3.04 ERA) and Thomas Woodrey (7-2, 2.84 ERA) are expected to start the first two games. Junior right-hander Enrique Sosa (7-4, 4.07 ERA) has not lasted more than 4 2/3 innings in his past three starts.

Garcia (7-1, 3.25 ERA), typically the team’s midweek starter during the regular season, allowed three earned runs on seven hits in six innings Sunday against Columbia, and struck out seven.

▪ Reliever Mike Mediavilla earned Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors, College Baseball Newspaper announced this week. Mediavilla, a lefty and Mater Academy alum, has made 32 appearances (second-most on the team) in his first season at UM and compiled a 3-2 record with 45 strikeouts and a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings while holding opponents to a .175 batting average.

Super regional schedule

Best-of-3 series

GM1: VCU vs. UM, Noon Friday, ESPNU

GM2: VCU vs. UM, Noon Saturday, ESPNU

*GM3: VCU vs. UM, Noon Sunday

*If necessary

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