- Associated Press - Monday, April 21, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - Bobby Abreu got a quick lesson in the Mets’ many uniform color combinations from an equipment guy, tried on a few belts in the clubhouse and then hugged new teammate Bartolo Colon.

Always smart for 40-year-olds to stick together in the big leagues.

“Good to be back,” Abreu said.

The Mets called up Abreu from the minors on Monday night, hoping the former star outfielder can still provide a few key hits. He wasn’t in New York’s starting lineup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Abreu hasn’t been in the majors since 2012, when he played a combined 100 games for the Dodgers and Angels. He began spring training this year with Philadelphia, was released in late March and signed a minor league deal a few days later with the Mets.

Abreu hit .395 with one homer and nine RBIs in 15 games at Triple-A Las Vegas. He batted .322 with 28 RBIs in 50 games during winter league games last offseason in his native Venezuela.

Even so, he wasn’t certain whether he’d get one more chance to play in the majors at age 40.

“I was hoping,” he said.

Abreu will mostly come off the bench as a left-handed pinch hitter. He’ll likely get some starts soon in the outfield to stay sharp, and could see designated hitter duty in games at AL parks.

“That’s pretty much what it is,” he said.

With the callup to the majors, Abreu’s salary increases from $108,000 to $800,000.

A former two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, he is a .290 hitter since beginning his major league career with Houston in 1996. He has also played for the Phillies and Yankees, along with the Angels and Yankees.

Abreu said he’s OK with the prospect of limited time.

“They’ve got a lot of young outfielders here who will play,” he said. “I just want to be prepared, stay ready for my situations and contribute.”

That would be fine with Mets manager Terry Collins.

“Bobby certainly brings a quality major league at-bat,” he said. “He’s certainly been an outstanding hitter.”

Abreu has hit 287 home runs in the majors, along with 565 doubles and 399 stolen bases. He also had a patient plan at the plate and keen knowledge of the strike zone, something the Mets are trying to teach their hitters throughout the organization.

Abreu drew 100 or more walks for eight straight seasons in the middle of his career.

“That’s the mold, the approach of what we want,” Collins said. “Work the count, get a good ball to hit.”

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was a major league catcher whose career overlapped Abreu’s time in the bigs. He recalled the days when Abreu was a star-caliber player.

“Be interested to see how it looks now,” Matheny said.

The Mets optioned outfielder Andrew Brown to Las Vegas. He hit .185 with one homer and five RBIs in 27 at-bats.

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