02/27/12 7:00 PM EST
Asdrubal hoping to excel again this season
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Instead, Cabrera returns as an All-Star and key component for Cleveland both in the batter's box and in the field, but he is doing so on another one-year pact. On Monday, Cabrera offered a shrug of his shoulders when asked what got in the way of making a longer deal happen.
"I don't know," Cabrera said. "We're not on the same page right now -- the team and my agent. So, we made the decision to sign for one year. We'll see later in the season, or in Spring Training, if they try to sign me or not."
What happens behind closed doors at this point is in the hands of the Indians and Cabrera's representives. Coming off of a career year, the shortstop wants to keep his focus on the weeks of preparation in front of him this spring and the long season that will follow.
The unanswered question right now is what type of player Cabrera will be for Cleveland this summer. Last year, he found a previously untapped power stroke, and developed into the lineup's top run producer, after serving as a table-setter in the early portion of his career.
Indians manager Manny Acta is not losing any sleep over the situation.
"Asdrubal is the last thing on my mind," Acta said. "Asdrubal has already been a good consistent hitter at the Major League level. ... We know we have a very good solid player, a very good hitter, who before last year hit over .300 at the Major League level. We'll take what he's going to give us."
Acta is also confident that Cabrera -- under contract for $4.55 million this season and eligible for arbitration again next winter -- can keep his mind off of any ongoing contract talks.
"I don't see a reason why that's going to bother him," Acta said. "He's under control anyways, so it's not like he's going to be a free agent after this season. He's one of those players that's going to be able to put that behind him and concentrate on producing."
Cabrera certainly did plenty of that in 2011.
In 151 games a year ago, the 26-year-old Cabrera hit .273 with 25 home runs, 32 doubles, 87 runs scored and 92 RBIs for the Indians. He earned a spot on the American League All-Star team -- he was promoted to the starting role after Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter bowed out -- and picked up a Silver Slugger Award at season's end.
One year earlier, Cabrera launched just three homers and collected 29 RBIs in 97 games during an injury-hindered showing. For his career, the shortstop had just 18 home runs and 166 RBIs across 387 contests, entering last season.
Cabrera sounds as interested as anyone else to see what type of power he will display in the upcoming campaign.
"We'll have to wait for the season and see how things go," Cabrera said. "I've never hit that many home runs before, but I know -- and everybody knows -- that I've got power now. We'll have to see what happens."
The difference last season for Cabrera was an altered approach at the plate.
When he did not face a two-strike count, Cabrera kept his hands lower on the bat to generate more power. On the advice of Orlando Cabrera last spring, the shortstop also picked certain counts for trying to drive the ball with more authority. His home run production soared as a result.
"He's got some raw power," Acta said. "But every one of those guys will tell you -- the guys that hit home runs -- you've got to pick your spots. Guys just learn with time which counts, what pitch to look for and the game situation. A lot of times the scoreboard will dictate what you're going to do at the plate.
"He did a very good job of that last year, but he's got some room for improvement -- he knows that."
Acta cited on-base percentage as one area in which the Indians would like to see improved results from Cabrera. Last season, the shortstop posted a .332 OBP -- lower than his career mark -- but Acta believes part of the problem was the shortstop was putting too much pressure on himself to be a run producer.
Throughout last season, Cleveland absorbed a wave of injury woes up and down the roster, forcing Cabrera into a more prominent role in the lineup. Cabrera did all he could to produce, while also playing through minor nagging injuries of his own at times.
"At times last year," Acta said, "since he was the guy that was carrying us for a long period of time, he got out of the strike zone a little bit. That's not going to be the case -- hopefully -- with all these guys clicking at all cylinders behind him."
Acta said last season was also a chance for Cabrera to assert himself as a leader on the field and in the clubhouse. By playing through pain for stretches, Cabrera led by example. Acta also noted that the shortstop stepped up as a vocal leader when certain situations necessitated as much last season.
"We were encouraging him over the last two years to step up and be the guy," Acta said. "Asdrubal did a very good job last year taking that step forward."
As for his long-term future, Cabrera said Cleveland is where he wants to play.
"I hope to stay here in Cleveland," Cabrera said. "I want to play in Cleveland. We've got to see what they want."