Cabrera, the former Orioles hurler officially signed Monday by the Nationals to a one-year deal, has gone 0 for 14 in his career at the plate in the times he had to swing a bat in interleague play in the American League. That is not particularly unusual for a pitcher who rarely hits, as is the case in the AL. What is unusual is that Cabrera struck out all 14 times. No ground balls. No pop ups. That’s almost hard to do.
The word is that unless he is throwing the ball, he is not particularly crazy about being close to the ball, which could make for some interesting at bats during his starts for the Nationals — if indeed he is part of the rotation this coming season. Pitchers infield practice could be interesting this spring as well. Cabrera was no Gold Glove, either, on the mound for the Orioles, and they spent hours trying to work on his fielding, with little success.
Now, the Nationals didn’t get him for his hitting or fielding. The 6-foot-9 hard-throwing Cabrera, at the age of 27, has shown enough potential, despite his 48-59 record in 146 starts for Baltimore, to be worth a shot. If Nationals pitching coach Randy St. Claire can fix this guy, then he will have done something that Leo Mazzone, Ray Miller and Mark Wiley could not do. If hitting coach Rick Eckstein, though, can get a hit out of Cabrera, that may be the more remarkable accomplishment.
I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM on Tuesday, Dec. 30, from 4 to 7 p.m.
To learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com