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Abad can't wait to contribute

Patience is more than a virtue or strategy at the plate for Andy Abad. After spending 10 years in the minor leagues and one season in Japan, patience defines his professional career. Abad knows what it feels like to wait for a major league callup. He knows the drudgery of long bus rides. He knows the type of determination it takes to keep a dream alive. He has played for teams in Pawtucket, Sarasota, Sacramento, Trenton, Oakland, Calgary, Magallanes (Venezuela), Osaka, and the Florida Instructional League.

"My dad told me two things: Make the people tear that uniform off your back,' and `It doesn't take talent to hustle,' " said the 31-year-old Abad. "I guess that's what's kept me going."

And some good hitting doesn't hurt, either. After Abad hit .304 with 13 homers and produced an International League-leading 93 RBIs in 134 games for Pawtucket, Boston purchased the contract of the first baseman/outfielder Sept 2. In his minor league career, Abad has a .289 batting average in 1,095 games. He has more than 1,000 minor league hits.

Abad believes the last 11 years have made him a far better player than the one who was selected by the Red Sox in the 16th round of the 1993 June draft. At that time, Abad admittedly was "a hot-head athlete" coming out of Middle Georgia Junior College. He turned down a baseball scholarship from the University of Miami to play pro.

"I think one of the biggest things that has helped me out the last four or five years is that I've actually learned how to play the game and to do the little things," Abad said. "As an outfielder, that's being able to hit your cutoff man and make the routine plays with an occasional outstanding catch. I think that's one of the reasons that's kept me around, being able to work hard and get the job done.

"I was really a hot-head athlete early in my career. I couldn't accept failure. And being a baseball player, if you go 3 for 10, you're hitting .300 and so seven of the 10 times you're failing. I had to accept that.

"Being turned down, maybe in '98 and '99 and another couple times, I felt I had a chance to get called up and didn't do it. And it didn't work out for me. That's the way the game is. Sometimes some people get more breaks than others. But then again, you've got to make your own opportunities. When you do get that opportunity, you've got to make the best of it."

Before his recent callup, Abad had played in just one major league game. In uniform for Oakland Sept. 10, 2001, Abad popped out in his one at-bat. He made his Red Sox debut Sept. 5 at New York as a pinch hitter. He made his first major league start last Wednesday at Baltimore, going 0 for 3 as the right fielder. He is still looking for his first major league hit.

"I want it bad," said Abad. "But then again, it's about being patient. I have over 1,000 hits down in the minor leagues. I know eventually I'm going to get one up here, hopefully. If I don't, I don't. But eventually, it's going to come. The front office here told me to be patient.

"It's tough to break a lineup like this. I couldn't get too frustrated down there in Triple A [and ask], `Why not make a move?' I couldn't breathe down the front office's necks and say, `What are you going to do with me?'

"You can't do that with a team that's batting what they're batting. Nobody got hurt here the whole year and there weren't any moves to make. I couldn't get too frustrated. It was frustrating inside, but why voice it? They had a reason when they called me up. They said, `Hey, you deserve it. You've earned it. We're going to call you up to help this team win.' That's what I wanted to hear."

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