07/03/11 5:55 PM ET
Asdrubal, Perez to join Acta at All-Star Game
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Cabrera did not want to think about heading to the Midsummer Classic until he received the news -- good or bad -- from Cleveland manager Manny Acta. There was nothing Cabrera could do, however, to stop the text messages that came in from his father, wanting updates from his home in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.
"My dad texted me," Cabrera said with the smile of a slightly embarrassed son. "He kept asking, 'How is the vote going?'"
On Sunday, Cabrera was able to give his dad some good news. Both Cabrera and closer Chris Perez were named to the AL All-Star team -- a first for both of Cleveland's representatives. They will head to Arizona with Acta, who was selected by AL manager Ron Washington as an All-Star coach.
Acta delivered the news to Cabrera in the video room in the visitors' clubhouse at Great American Ball Park before Sunday's 7-5 loss to the Reds. Perez, who had been away from the team to be with his family after the passing of his maternal grandmother, learned he made the All-Star team shortly after his plane arrived in Cincinnati.
"It kind of picks my spirits up a little bit after the week I've had, for sure," Perez said. "I landed in Cincinnati, turned on the phone and got about 50 text messages. And I had a bunch of voicemails from my family and stuff. It was pretty exciting for sure."
The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be played on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. It will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and Le Reseau des Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Right now, Cabrera is the AL's lone reserve at shortstop. The 25-year-old switch-hitter finished second in fan balloting to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list. Jeter earned the starting nod with 4,536,386 votes, while Cabrera pulled in 4,073,992.
"I'm really happy that people followed me and voted for me," Cabrera said.
Fans, having already decided the starters, this week will have the opportunity to select the final player on each All-Star team. Balloting began immediately following Sunday's Major League All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell and continues until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 7. The winners will be announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter.
On July 12, fans once again will have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevy, via the 2011 All-Star Game MVP Vote Sponsored by Sprint on MLB.com during the All-Star Game.
In the balloting by Major League players, Cabrera was the overwhelming choice at his position. Cabrera received 636 votes from his peers, representing the second-highest total for any player at any position. Only Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista (740) received more votes from the players.
Cabrera had no issue with Jeter -- a veteran of 17 big league seasons and a 12-time All-Star -- capturing the fan vote.
"He's a really good player," Cabrera said. "I respect him. He's one of the best shortstops we have in this league."
This year, Cabrera has earned the same reputation.
Given the ups and downs of Cleveland's offense as a whole, Cabrera's production has proved critical in the Tribe's climb to the top of the AL Central standings. After opening the season as the Indians' No. 2 hitter, Cabrera now has a home in the third spot of the order.
Entering Sunday's action, Cabrera was hitting .294 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs in 81 games for the Indians. Along the way, the switch-hitting, slick-fielding shortstop added 12 stolen bases, 21 doubles, 38 extra-base hits, 53 runs scored, 98 hits and 167 total bases.
"What I wasn't expecting was the power numbers," Acta said. "He hit over .300 as an everyday player, so I wasn't expecting any less when I came over last year. But the power numbers, I'd be lying if I don't tell you I've been impressed by it. I wasn't expecting that.
"I've always felt that he could be a double-digit type of guy, but not double digits by the first half."
Cabrera, who had all of 18 home runs in his previous four Major League seasons with the Indians, took some advice from veteran infielder Orlando Cabrera during Spring Training. After watching the shortstop take batting practice, Orlando Cabrera told his new teammate that he should pick certain counts to swing for more power.
The altered approach has paid off to this point.
"I knew I had a little pop, but I never tried to use it," Cabrera said. "O.C. helped me a little bit. He told me, 'Are you going to say, 'Thank you,' to me?' I said, 'I will. I will.'"
Told that Asdrubal Cabrera made a point to give Orlando Cabrera some credit, the elder infielder smiled.
"He better," Orlando Cabrera joked.
Cabrera's 14 homers are already a career high for the 25-year-old, who is also on pace to establish personal bests in slugging percentage (.502) and OPS (.846). Entering Sunday, the first-time All-Star also led all AL shortstops in home runs, RBIs, hits, runs, total bases and extra-base hits.
"What Asdrubal has done this year has been nothing short of All-Star caliber," Acta said. "He's been a big part of stabilizing our lineup, that's for sure. He's been our most consistent hitter from Day 1. We have relied a lot on him. He has won a lot of games for us in many different ways.
"From a squeeze to a single, double, triple, home run -- you name it. And then he's been really good defensively, too."
Cabrera has been a frequent contributor to highlight shows with dazzling displays of defensive wizardry all season long.
It is certainly possible that Cabrera could be in the mix to become Cleveland's first Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop since Omar Vizquel accomplished the feat in 2001. For now, Cabrera will have to settle for being the team's first All-Star shortstop since Vizquel made the AL squad in 2002.
"As soon as you play in the big leagues," Cabrera said, "you want to make the All-Star Game. I'm really happy right now."
While Cabrera has solidified Cleveland's offense, Perez has been a steady anchor for the team's strong bullpen.
The hard-throwing right-hander has posted a 2.37 ERA with 19 saves in 20 chances this season for the Indians, who boast the second-best bullpen ERA in the AL. The 26-year-old Perez has finished 30 of the 33 games he has appeared in, allowing only eight earned runs over 30 1/3 innings.
Perez's dominance started well before this season, though. Dating back to June 28 of last year, the stopper has fashioned a 1.40 ERA over 66 games, piling up 36 saves in his 38 opportunities. Last year, Perez assumed the ninth-inning role full-time after the Tribe traded Kerry Wood last July, and ended with a 1.71 ERA and 23 saves.
"I don't think many closers have been as good as Chris Perez dating back to the second half of last year," Acta said. "He looks perfect for that role. Even this year, he looks calmer and under control. He's still aggressive with a short memory.
"Although, this year, he hasn't had to use that short memory too much."
Acta was quick to note Perez's performance in one-run saves, too.
This season, Perez -- the first Cleveland reliever to make an All-Star team since Bob Wickman in 2005 -- has converted 10 of his 11 one-run save chances. Dating back to last season, the right-hander has nailed down 19 of his past 20 one-run save opportunities.
"Those are legit," Acta said.
Perez can only dream of having a similar chance when the time comes to pitch in the All-Star Game. Both he and Cabrera will have a host of family joining them for the upcoming festivities in Arizona.
Cabrera's wife and two children have been with him all weekend in Cincinnati, too.
"My wife," Cabrera said, "she told me a couple weeks ago, 'I want to be there in Cincinnati for that day. If it happens or not, I'll be with you.'"
The good news finally arrived.
Cabrera's father surely enjoyed the latest update.