Cabrera says don't be fazed by his age
Orlando Cabrera turned up his hearing aid, wheeled his chair over to the telephone and participated in a conference call with the Chicago media Tuesday.
He is, after all, the aging shortstop the White Sox acquired Monday in the trade that sent starting pitcher Jon Garland to the Los Angeles Angels.
Even from his off-season home in distant Catragena, Colombia, the 33-year-old Cabrera seemed to sense a swelling concern about his age a day after the deal.
"I really believe, if we talk about numbers, every year I keep getting better and better,'' said Cabrera, an 11-year veteran. "Age is not an issue. Alex Rodriguez is 32 and no one is concerned about his age. And he just got a 10-year contract.
"I'm comfortable with the way I work my body, and this is just a start. I'm going to have different years in my career, and they are all going to be good.''
Cabrera is coming off the best season of an already stellar career. Playing in 155 games with the Angels, the 5-foot-9, 185-pounder established career bests in batting average (.301), hits (192) and runs scored (101). Cabrera also led the American League with 11 sacrifice hits while winning his second Gold Glove.
While he leaves an Angels team that went 94-68 and finished first in the AL West and joins a Sox team that finished fourth in the Central with a 72-90 record, Cabrera is almost pinching himself.
"I'm really surprised, and at the same time, really happy and excited,'' Cabrera said. "My wife and I really, really, really took this news with a lot of joy. This is a great challenge for me and I'm going to take it as best I can.''
Cabrera broke into the major leagues with Montreal in 1997 and played for the Expos until 2003. In 2001, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was Montreal's third-base coach.
Cabrera said he knew Guillen before that, and he can't wait to play for his new manager, a slick-fielding shortstop for the Sox from 1985-97.
"It can't be better for me,'' said Cabrera, a two-time Gold Glove winner. "It's going to be a great challenge for me, playing for one of the great defensive shortstops of the 1980s and '90s. I know he's going to challenge me every single day, and I love that.''
Guillen can be tough on players he feels aren't carrying their share of the load. Cabrera said he could handle the scrutiny.
"I've always admired him,'' Cabrera said. "He's a guy that likes to win and he likes to tell the truth. That's me right there.''
Cabrera has been to the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, including 2004 with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. He was with the Angels the following season, when the White Sox beat Los Angeles in five games to win the American League championship series.
Even though the White Sox are coming off a poor season, Cabrera expects to again be playing in October.
"I talked to (Williams, Guillen) and (bench coach) Joey Cora,'' Cabrera said. "They said they're going to make some more moves, and that's great. I believe we have a great team right now with the players we have.''