Asdrubal Cabrera is singing a much different tune than the last time he found himself at a new position.
Cabrera, who has played nearly 79.4 percent of his career games (1,046 of 1,318) at shortstop, told reporters after a June 23 game when he started at second base, that he wanted a trade, which he quickly rescinded. Noting a lack of communication at the time, Cabrera was much more content Saturday night starting at third base, saying manager Terry Collins told him a few days ago he’d be playing third base soon.
“I’m prepared every day to do my job every day at any position,” Cabrera said pregame, then he went 2-for-5. “I’m a professional player, so I’m going to do my job and help the team to win no matter what position.”
Saturday night was the first time in Cabrera’s 11-year career he started at third base, the only other appearance at the position being in his major-league debut Aug 8, 2007, with Cleveland for less than two innings.
Collins said he thought Ca bre ra, who before Saturday night only took grounders at third base once with the Mets, would be able to convert to his new position.
“He’s a middle infielder, he’s going to play third base,” Collins said. “Got great hands, great arm, he’ll be fine.”
Cabrera, whose evening included fielding a ground ball to his left and getting the forceout at second base, was willing to move to third base earlier this month, as reported by Newsday’s Marc Carig on July 19.
Additionally Cabrera, hitting .250 with 41 runs, nine home runs and 29 RBIs, trying third base could help him appear more suitable to teams before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. It also provides the Mets more versatility on the field. With Neil Walker’s possible return next week after being on the disabled list since June 15 with a partial tear of his left hamstring, the Mets infield could become crowded.
Cabrera had started 20 of the Mets’ previous 22 games at second base.
“The one thing I think he’s going to be moving forward is a guy that can play any of those spots,” Collins said, adding that Cabrera could substitute for Jose Reyes at shortstop and Walker at second. “We aren’t going to miss a beat because he’s that valuable of a guy. Especially being a switch hitter, he can hit from both sides. He’s a very valuable commodity that every team in baseball likes to have and that’s that guy they can turn to.”
Collins, who went on to say Reyes will be the team’s starting shortstop, also compared Cabre ra to the Cubs’ Ben Zobrist, a switch hitter who has played five different positions this season.
Cabrera, 31, isn’t sure how he’ll perform at third base, but said he wants to try it to help the team.
“I think you just have to try to catch the ball and make the out,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be easy or not — I don’t think it’s going to be easy — but I’m going to do my best for the team.”