Padres' Cabrera Fighting Back

Rule 5 draftee eyes return to the lineup





SAN DIEGO—His first two seasons in the big leagues have been an elevator ride for Everth Cabrera.

A major league Rule 5 draft pick from the Rockies in the winter of 2008, when he had never played above low Class A and was generally considered a second baseman, he was the Padres' starting shortstop in 2009, playing 103 games and hitting .255/.342/.361. His potential, scouts said, was the top floor. But he landed in the basement in 2010.

Plagued by hamstring problems, he played in just 76 games and hit .208/.279/.278. He was sent back to Triple-A, bruising his psyche. When he returned to the big leagues, the coaching staff had to handle him with care.

"Everth has a lot of talent, a lot of talent," Padres manager Bud Black said. "But he's still young, still learning the game, still maturing."

To regain his edge, Cabrera played this winter for Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League. And he got hot, hitting .301/.404/.410.

"Tools don't go away," farm director Randy Smith said. "Remember, this kid came out of low-A in 2009 and performed great for us. He was injured last year, and that was a setback, for sure. But it doesn't mean we're down on him or don't like him. We still think this kid has a bright future."

The Padres, however, couldn't gamble on Cabrera returning to form. They traded for shortstop Jason Bartlett and signed free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson.

So Cabrera is going to have to fight for a spot on the big league roster, but it would appear he is headed to Triple-A in 2011 so he can play shortstop every day.

FATHER FIGURES

• Righthander Radhames Liz, who went 8-8, 4.83 in Triple-A last season, was released and signed with Korea's LG Twins.

• Infielder Kevin Frandsen and catcher Guillermo Quiroz signed minor league deals. Frandsen split time between Triple-A Pawtucket and Salt Lake last season and played 54 games for the Angels. Quiroz played 68 games at Double-A, 28 at Triple-A and two with the Mariners last season.