TORONTO -- In a return to his past home of two seasons, Melky Cabrera said Monday negotiations never got close with the Toronto Blue Jays last offseason.
The White Sox are hopeful that playing in the Rogers Centre gets Cabrera back to hitting like the guy they signed for three years and $42 million this offseason.
One of many slumping bats in the lineup, Cabrera entered Monday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays with a .239/.287/.270 slash line with one home run and 15 RBIs this season. Both Cabrera and the White Sox have to believe his luck is due to change -- he’s hitting 56 points below his career mark on balls in play.
“He’s hitting the ball hard,” manager Robin Ventura said. “In our last series, he lined out quite a bit. It was on the barrel and it was hard. It’s a good sign to see that, but you’re not guaranteed anything just because you hit hard. You always like the sign of a guy swinging it that way, being on time, and he’s been that way. I know he has scuffled a little bit right-handed. He’s even hit some balls right handed, and he’s not getting anything from it.”
Cabrera has only three extra-base hits in 179 plate appearances this season. He had 54 in 2014, including 35 doubles. But Cabrera doesn’t seem to be panicked by the slow start.
The veteran outfielder is glad to be back in Toronto, where he made good friends with Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes in two seasons and “learned a lot,” he said. Through an interpreter, Cabrera said the Blue Jays told him to seek what he was worth on the free-agent market and the two sides never engaged further after the White Sox made their offer. He also expects things will turn around for both himself and the White Sox.
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“It’s part of the game,” Cabrera said. “Just keep playing. We have a good team. We’re going to be better.”
Closer David Robertson has seen Cabrera at his best as the two played in the same division the previous two seasons. He also believes Cabrera is due for a rebound in a hurry.
“Very good eye,” Robertson said. “He’s patient at the plate and he’ll take his chances when he thinks he’s going to get a good pitch over. Hits the ball hard. That’s the thing you notice about Melky. I don’t know what his average is, but he’s squared up -- everything he squares up is an out. I don’t know what’s going on, it’s just bad luck right now. I was joking with him you that you need to take the barrel out and just use the end.”