Citizen Staff Writer
Chicago White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera didn’t enjoy instant success.
The two-time Gold Glove shortstop worked his way up the ladder slowly, spending five years in the Montreal Expos’ minor league system.
All that changed during the 1997 season when the Colombian-born son of a major league scout went from Single-A ball to the Expos.
Cabrera has never looked back.
“I give everything out there. That is the only thing I have ever expected,” Cabrera said. “I try to do the same things every day and try to win ballgames and try to keep everybody together.”
Although he has only been in the White Sox clubhouse a little while, it is obvious that the 33-year old is a take-charge player who has the respect of his teammates.
The opposition certainly fears him after he hit .301 with eight homers, 86 RBIs and a .345 on-base percentage in 2007.
Cabrera, picked up in the offseason in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels for pitcher Jon Garland, is slated to bat No. 2 in the order and shore up the White Sox’s defense.
Few play shortstop better. Through 11 seasons, Cabrera has a .978 field percentage to go with Gold Gloves in 2001 and 2007.
Cabrera’s addition to the Sox means that Juan Uribe will move to second.
“I don’t feel like I am replacing anybody,” Cabrera said. “I came here to help. I came here, I believe, as a leader and to keep everybody together and to push in the right direction.”
Cabrera is playing in the last year of a contract and is slated to make $9 million. That’s probably nothing compared to what he can make with another successful season.
Between his defense, his on-base percentage, timely hitting and winning combination, the White Sox have a proven commodity.
Cabrera, who leads the majors since 2001 with 277 doubles, has been in the playoffs three of the past four years.
He helped Boston win the World Series in 2004 and last year was with the Angels as they won the American League West.
The Angels decided to make a trade, which might prove baffling.
“There are a lot of young kids on that team that deserve to play,” Cabrera said of the trade. “It was a move that had to be made and they picked me.”