Cabrera breaks out, homers from both sides

Cabrera breaks out, homers from both sides
March 7, 2012, 12:04 am
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GLENDALE, Ariz. Melky Cabreras interviews are drier thana tumbleweed in a haboob. He won't quip his way to celebrity in the Bay Area.Hitting two home runs in his first game against thearchrival Los Angeles Dodgers? Now that might quicken a few hearts.Cabrera introduced himself to Giants fans in the best possible way Tuesday. He homeredfrom both sides of the plate at dust-blown Camelback Ranch, first smacking ano-doubter against left-hander Ted Lilly and later connecting off right-handerRamon Troncoso.He is 5-for-9 with two homers and two doubles in threeCactus League games. Its enough to make him smile.Barely.His postgame interview with a handful of reporters, with thehelp of translator Erwin Higueros, went something like this:Im here to work.But are you having fun?Yes. But Im here to work.Cabrera, 27, has played in the U.S. for parts of sevenseasons with the Yankees, Braves and Royals. So you might assume his English isfunctional. But Cabrera has only conducted a couple of group interviews, all bone-dryaffairs with the help of an interpreter.Its not an act to avoid the media, either.This was my first time playing the outfield with him, saidright fielder Nate Schierholtz, who clumped with Cabrera and left fielder EmmanuelBurriss during a pitching change. I asked him a few questions, and Im notsure he understood them. Hes just really, really quiet.Cabrera has good reason to be serious. Hell be a free agentafter the season. If he can compile anything close to the numbers he did lastyear in a breakout campaign with the Kansas City Royals (200-plus hits,100-plus runs, better than .300 from both sides of the plate), hell sethimself up to make a lot of money.All fine and good. But nothing wrong with winning a littlelove from the home fans, too. Right?Ive been told the fans are great but I show up to do mywork, Cabrera said in Spanish. I concentrate and thats what I do for everyteam I play. Thats what I appreciate, the manager giving me the opportunity toplay every day.He is seizing the opportunity thus far. He also owns perhapsthe best defensive play by a Giant in five exhibition games, when he unleashed astrike to the plate to throw out Arizonas Justin Upton by 15 feet on Friday.
He just looks very confident, Giants manager Bruce Bochysaid. Coming off a good year, he should. You dont have a year like thatwithout being a good player. He just does his thing. Hes very humble, doesntsay a lot. He gets his work in.As for his switch-hitting power display? Thats a rarity.Its been done in a regular-season game by a Giant just three times in the last19 years (Randy Winn twice, Ray Durham once).Cabrera has homered from both sides of the plate once in his big league career, on April22, 2009, for the Yankees. He never reached his potential in pinstripes. Hemight be doing it now.I dont care if its spring training. Thats impressive,Bochy said. Few guys have done that.His fast start aside, it's a bit dishonest to expect Cabrera to be an offensive savior. His breakout season is an outlier given his career context and his on-base percentage last year was almost entirely reliant on getting hits. (It was just .339 despite a .305 average; he walked 35 times in 706 plate appearances.)Much has been made of Cabrera's speed, but he was caught 10 times out of 30 stolen-base attempts. So his efficiency on the basepaths is nothing to crow about, either.Funny, but those things don't mean much to fans when you slug two home runs against the Dodgers. Especially if Cabrera is able to do it at sold-out AT&T Park.How much fun would that be?
I am having fun, he said, not changing his expression. Ilike the guys here. I like the team. I like to have fun.But I also like to concentrate to do the best job I can.

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