PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — There are few position questions going into the Tampa Bay Rays’ spring work, but infielder Asdrubal Cabrera’s spot remains a question.
Cabrera, 29, appeared at Charlotte Sports Park on Monday, five days before the team’s first full-squad workout, and he fielded ground balls at shortstop and second base as he began the process of finding his fit.
"I don’t know yet," he said. "I took ground balls at both second and short today, but we have not talked about that. Any position they want me to play, I’ll be there. … I would love to stay in one position. I think it’s hard for anybody to play short then come back to second. It’s not the same."
In January the Rays signed Cabrera, a two-time All-Star whose a career .268 hitter with 87 home runs and 451 RBI, as an answer for their remade middle infield after the trade of Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Oakland Athletics. Since making his major-league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 2007, Cabrera has 720 starts at shortstop and 197 at second base. Last year, in time split between the Indians and Washington Nationals, he started 92 games at shortstop and 48 at second base.
Rays manager Kevin Cash, whose time in Cleveland as a bullpen coach overlapped with Cabrera’s career there, anticipates that the veteran infielder will receive ample looks at both positions throughout the spring. Cash said it remains to be seen which position will work best for Cabrera and the Rays. Cash added that the situation won’t begin to be settled until other position players report to camp later this week.
"He’s going to be versatile going back and forth, getting his work in at both spots," Cash said. "I know that we would like to have the earlier, the better (in knowing where he’ll play), because it gives the guys a better sense going into the season. That doesn’t always play out that way. But Cabby, his conversations in the offseason with everybody, he has been very open-minded. We’re ecstatic to have him in there every day."
Nick Franklin, who had 11 appearances with the Rays last season after coming from the Seattle Mariners in July in the David Price trade, could give Cabrera competition at shortstop throughout the spring. If Cabrera becomes the Rays’ shortstop, though, Franklin and utility man Logan Forsythe may form a platoon at second base.
"I’m pretty excited to get on my team and be part of Tampa Bay," Cabrera said.