Claiming that “suddenly, Bobby Abreu is hard to recognize,”, the Philadelphia Daily News’ Marcus Hayes accuses the Phillies rightfielder of “showcasing himself.”

Abreu cut off what would have been a sure double to right-centerfield for Giants outfielder Steve Finley on Friday, one of several uncharacteristically aggressive plays he made in the outfield as the Phils took two of three exiting the All-Star break.

Abreu pushed a long fly ball to centerfield in the same game for a first-inning sacrifice fly – on the second pitch he saw all day. This, from the guy who has seen more pitches this season than any batter in baseball, often to the frustration of those eager for him to be more aggressive in RBI situations.

To top it off, Abreu showed up at Petco Park yesterday long before his normal reporting time of about 4 p.m… . and he even took extra hitting.

The more aggressive fielding comes from a recent conversation with centerfielder Aaron Rowand, in which Rowand, an extremely aggressive sort, encouraged Abreu to be more aggressive, to not fear making mistakes, to make a read and go for it: “To have fun,” Rowand said.

Swinging earlier in counts in RBI situations, Abreu said, comes from him “trying not to wait until too late, when I’m desperate. Now, I look for a pitch, and I hit it.”

Everyone has noticed the difference.

“Bobby’s playing better. Harder,” manager Charlie Manuel said.

“I always play hard,” Abreu bristled.

“He did win a Gold Glove last year,” said bench coach Gary Varsho, Abreu’s personal outfield coach the past few seasons. “He wants to prove to people it wasn’t a fluke. He’ll never say this, but I think he wants people in Philadelphia to know that he’s proud of it.”

The Detroit News’ Tom Gage seems pretty hot for the Tigers to make a move on Washington’s Alfonso Soriano.

The Tigers — who usually keep quiet about their needs — have made it plain all along that if they’re missing anything, it’s a left-handed impact hitter for the middle of their lineup?

When it’s a player as talented as Soriano, and when owner Mike Ilitch is saying: “I’ll get Jim (manager Jim Leyland) whatever he wants,” it could be the Tigers go the right-handed route instead.

Soriano, a potential free agent after the season, is on the block. He can be had. Of his $10 million salary, the Tigers would be responsible for about $4 million.

Such amounts aren’t a problem — right, Mike? — when you’re talking about the first postseason for someone who has owned a team since 1992 and hasn’t even seen the sunny side of .500 since ’93.

Soriano would be a rented player, because of his free-agent future, but if the Tigers get to the postseason with him, and if he takes to the team as quickly as Placido Polanco, also from the Dominican Republic, did — then it’s not impossible he’d re-sign.

If Soriano led off for the Tigers, Leyland could hit Curtis Granderson ninth, meaning they’d have speed at both ends of the batting order. There’d be a fit, in other words.

General manager Dave Dombrowski has said he won’t trade the Tigers’ best prospects, but the organization’s pitching is so deep, he could trade one of them — either of the Toledo right-handers Humberto Sanchez or Jordan Tata.

For Soriano to play left, there’d have be a vacancy, so the Tigers would include an outfielder in the deal. Craig Monroe’s name is no stranger to trade rumors. But the Nationals would need more than that.

They’d have to get at least another pitching prospect in the deal, possibly from Lakeland — and as a throw-in, because the Nationals need center-field candidates, Nook Logan.