Say hello to Uncle Orlando
It became pretty apparent that Orlando Cabrera passed his physical with the Indians when he was spotted hanging out with his new double-play partner, Asdrubal Cabrera, in the outfield on a practice diamond on Wednesday morning.
Sure enough, Cleveland announced that it had indeed signed the veteran infielder to a one-year Major League contract. The deal is worth $1 million plus incentives, but there is no option for the 2012 season. Ask me, and I’ll say that seems like a nice bargain.
During our sit-down with Orlando, we asked if he knew Asdrubal before today.
“The nephew?” Cabrera replied with a grin.
So a few years back, when baseball started to see an increase in the number of Cabreras in The Show — Asdrubal, Melky, Miguel, Fernando, Daniel — Orlando started referring to them as his nephews.
“And he calls me uncle,” Cabrera said of Asdrubal.
And to answer the obvious question: No, they are not actually related.
That said, Orlando Cabrera is the kid brother of Jolbert Cabrera, who suited up for the Indians in 310 games from 1998-2002. For those wondering how Jolbert is doing these days, Orlando said he is currently still playing ball for a team in Mexico.
As for OC, he’s in camp as the favorite to be the Tribe’s starting second baseman. One way or another, manager Manny Acta — who knows Orlando from their days in the Expos organization — said Cabrera is on the team (barring an injury, of course). So he’ll break camp either as a second baseman or a utlity guy (he’ll see reps at 3B, too).
Cabrera actually sounded genuinely enthusiastic about the chance to play second base. It was the position he played as a Minor Leaguer and he said making the switch to shortstop — a position where he’s won two Gold Gloves — was more difficult that going from short to second. Acta said Cabrera could play second “with his eyes closed.”
Helping matters will be the fact that he’ll play second with them open.
Where will Cabrera hit in the lineup? Acta said Cabrera has the ability to adjust to any spot in the batting order. As of right now though, the Indians do not view Cabrera as a part of the top of the lineup. So I’d pencil him into one of the Nos. 7-9 spots right now if you’re busy doing mock lineups at home.
Other notes and observations from Wednesday…
- Pitchers and catchers all underwent physicals on Wednesday. They also met individually with Acta and GM Chris Antonetti to discuss expectations for the upcoming season. The first official workout for pitchers and catchers is Thursday.
- Spotted in camp: Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner and newly-hired special assistant to baseball operations Eduardo Perez. I introduced myself as “Best Buy” to Hafner, because that’s where I ran into him and initially introduced myself over the winter. That’s a story for another day…
- The Indians need to make another transaction in order to clear room on the 40-man roster for Cabrera. Once the move is approved by the league — likely in the next couple of days — it would be announced. I would think a pitcher is most likely to be removed from the roster.
- To help account for the high volume of pitchers in camp, the Indians added catching prospect Chun Chen to their group of non-roster invitees. That will help with early bullpen sessions and also provide Chen with valuable experience, especially the chance to work with Sandy Alomar Jr. on his defense.
- Rumored for a few days, confirmed on Tuesday and official on Wednesday: Kenny Lofton is joining the Tribe as a guest instructor this spring. He will work with outfielders and offer tips on baserunning while he’s in camp from Feb. 22-28. During the regular season, Lofton will have an expanded role as an alumni ambassador, helping with some community initiatives among other things.
- The Indians could have a bit of a logjam in the infield at Triple-A Columbus this year. If Lonnie Chisenhall is at third and Jason Kipnis is at second, suddenly guys like Jared Goedert (3B) and Cord Phelps (2B/3B) we’ll be searching for playing time if they’re in Columbus as well. Antonetti said Goedert will see some time in the outfield this spring and he could get at-bats at 1B or DH at Triple-A, too. Phelps will see action at second and third, but Antonetti wasn’t sure yet if he’d see innings in the outfield this spring.
- Antonetti said that no big-league starters are currently faced with any obvious innings restrictions for the coming season. The only one he said the club will “be mindful of” is Mitch Talbot. Antonetti quickly added, though, that the goal is for Talbot to pitch a full Major League season.
- On Monday, Justine Siegal will become the first woman to throw batting practice to a Major League team when she does so for the Indians. She will also throw BP to A’s hitters on Feb. 23. Siegal is also the first woman to coach men’s professional baseball (Brockton Rox, 2009).
Photo of the day:
1B Matt LaPorta. Calling his shot?
Be sure to keep checking the blog and Indians.com for updates from camp. Also, make sure you’re following along on Twitter (@MLBastian) and check out the “Jordan Bastian” fan page on Facebook for links to stories, blogs, photos and more.
More tomorrow. Stay tuned…