How about Everth Cabrera …
Confession: I don’t cover EVERY Padres game (that would probably kill me) but it’s safe to say I’ve seen more than any other print reporter in town so I’m going to, for the sake of this particular blog entry, call myself something short of an expert of all things Padres in 2009.
Self-promotion? No, not this time. Just pointing out that what I saw Friday, the walk-off grand slam by rookie Everth Cabrera — he of now TWO Major League home runs — was probably the most exciting moment of the season.
Here’s my game story from Friday. What are your thoughts on Everth? How big of a spark has he been, in your eyes, to this team? What kind of player will he eventually be? Please refrain from the we’ll-trade-him-like-we-did-Peavy comments.
Your thoughts on Everth Cabrera?
SAN DIEGO — His job is to play defense, get a bunt down and, generally, cause
havoc on the opposing defense with his speed much more so than his bat.
But home runs? Those ranks pretty far down on the list of
things San Diego rookie Everth Cabrera considers imperative to his
“But if they go out every now and again, they go out every now and again,” Cabrera said, smiling.
One did Friday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for
Cabrera and his San Diego teammates as the Padres rallied for a 6-2
victory over the Mets at PETCO Park, thanks to Cabrera’s walk-off grand
slam against Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez.
That’s no mistake. Chalk that up as a grand slam for Cabrera,
the culmination of a nine-pitch at-bat against Rodriguez that was good
for Cabrera’s second home run of the year and just his ninth
professional home run in 1,054 at-bats.
“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” said Padres center
fielder Will Venable, tongue in cheek when asked if all San Diego
needed Friday was a Cabrera grand slam in order to win a game that they
trailed 2-0 entering the seventh inning.
Cabrera wasn’t the only Padres player to have a hand in this
victory or even the inning that saw Kyle Blanks start the inning with a
walk and then score on Venable’s double that kicked around in the
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Blanks, running hard and intently
watching the right arm of his third-base coach, Glenn Hoffman, chugged
around the bases and scored the tying run on what was a close play at
the plate that the Mets (51-58) protested, claiming catcher Brian
Schneider tagged Blanks while reaching back across the plate.
“Honestly, it felt like my fingers hit the tip of the plate.
Not much of it, though,” Blanks said. “You just leave it to trust. …
I trust him [Hoffman]. I was just thinking, ‘Don’t stop. He’s [waving
his arms] for a reason.'”
Venable took third on the throw home and stayed there as
Rodriguez issued a walk to Henry Blanco before intentionally walking
pinch-hitter Oscar Salazar to load the bases for Cabrera, who made an
error in the first inning that led to two runs and struck out on three
occasions earlier in the game.
“It was definitely one of my worst games. I definitely felt
bad,” Cabrera said, using first-base coach Rick Renteria as translator.
“But I felt at the last moment that I was going to get it done.”
Determined not to get buried by a Rodriguez changeup like he
did in April when the two teams opened Citi Field in New York, Cabrera
fell behind 0-2, stayed off a pitch that was in the dirt, then fouled
off three of the next four pitches he saw. Cabrera eventually ran the
count full before turning on a fastball down in the strike zone,
sending it just over the wall in right field.
“A great at-bat against the premier closer,” Padres manager Bud Black said.
That’s when chaos ensued. Cabrera clapped his hands together and
spiked his bat to the ground before circling the bases, finishing at
the plate where he was mobbed by the rest of his teammates.
“What can you say? Everything worked that inning,” Venable
said. “I have been on base before with him [Cabrera] in that situation
… the confidence he has and everyone has in him shows up.
“Here he is, facing K-Rod [Rodriguez] in a huge situation, and
there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to what he needed to
get it done.”