Apparently, seeing him play defense Wednesday persuaded the Phillies to look for other options.
Abreu was a designated hitter in a 6-0 win over the New York Yankees on Tuesday and played right field on Wednesday.
On a windy day when the game-time temperature at Bright House Field was 56 degrees, Abreu had two noticeable missteps in right field.
A first-inning fly ball by Ian Kinsler tailed away from Abreu, and the Tigers second baseman was awarded a triple.
"I think a speedier guy makes that play," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.
In the eighth, Abreu couldn't make a sliding catch, resulting in a double by Jared Reaves.
"He got a little late jump on that slide play," Sandberg said.
Abreu refused to use the wind as an excuse.
"It's part of the game and you always have to be ready in the outfield, no matter what," he said before he learned of the team's decision.
Sandberg, who is looking to build his bench with versatile players, was asked whether a player with defensive shortcomings could make the roster.
"A lot of times if you have a guy who can play defense and get four at-bats to stay sharp and to give a guy a day off, sometimes that is a necessity as far as I am concerned," he said.
Abreu played for the Phillies from 1998 until he was traded to the New York Yankees on July 30, 2006. He was a two-time all-star for the Phils. After nine seasons with the team, he ranks among the franchise's top 10 in several categories, including on-base percentage (fourth, at .416).
His ability to get on base this spring impressed Sandberg. After Abreu went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against the Tigers, his batting average dropped to .244, but he had a .404 on-base percentage and drew a team-high 10 walks this spring.
Abreu wasn't in the major leagues last year, but he said he began working out in July to prepare to play in the Venezuelan winter league.
With Caracas, he batted .322 with three home runs, 28 RBIs, 30 walks, and a .416 on-base percentage. After his strong winter performance, Abreu came to spring training with confidence.
"My play there helped me get this opportunity," he said.
His play in the spring kept him in contention for a spot, but his defensive shortcomings apparently cost him a job.