MINNEAPOLIS — The hard work Melky Cabrera has put in the cage has finally begun to pay off for the veteran outfielder.
Cabrera had a career-high five hits in Sunday’s win over the Texas Rangers to raise his season slash line to .250/.288/.291 with one homer and 23 RBIs in 289 plate appearances. But Cabrera has done a number of things better in June, including falling into a little luck that wasn’t there earlier. Over his past 13 games, Cabrera is hitting .362/.404/.447 with four doubles and six RBIs.
“He just looks more balanced,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Even the contact, the hard contact, he had the double yesterday right-handed, hasn’t been there consistently and yesterday was a sign of hopefully things to come for him.”
Like many of his teammates, Cabrera’s season hasn’t lived up to his standards.
He earned a three-year, $42-million contract after producing 54 extra-base hits in 2014 and finishing with a .351 on-base percentage and 73 RBIs for the Toronto Blue Jays. Cabrera has tried not to let his poor play affect his work in the cage with hitting coach Todd Steverson.
“You have to understand that this is a tough season, a long season and you have to keep the confidence,” Cabrera said through an interpreter. “Work hard, never give up and do the best you can every day. We have a lot of talent. It's just a matter of time. You can't fix all the little things in one specific moment. If things are getting bad for you, the key for me is to keep working, keep your confidence and keep your mind tough.”
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Ventura said Cabrera has been able to separate his struggles at the plate from the field, where he has been the team’s best outfielder. One aspect Ventura has seen stark improvement of late is Cabrera’s hitting against left-handed pitching. After he started the season 4-for-50 versus southpaws, Cabrera is 7-for-14 with two doubles.
“You’ve seen it happen before where a guy starts and it hasn’t gone that well,” Ventura said. “There’s still some baseball left in this guy, the confidence he’s able to swing it from both sides.”