Cubs reliever Alberto Cabrera making statement
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter March 23, 2014 10:54PM
Updated: March 23, 2014 11:34PM
MESA, Ariz. — Nobody in Cubs camp has more at stake than right-hander Alberto Cabrera, the only player without minor-league options who also came to camp without a firm place in the team’s pitching plans.
“The only thing I can say is I just have to work hard and something will happen,” said Cabrera, who made a 25-game debut with the Cubs in 2012 and was called up for seven appearances last September. “I have to show these guys I can be there.”
So far so good. Cabrera pitched another 1-2-3 inning Sunday, with a strikeout, against the Athletics and has allowed just one run in eight appearances, covering nine innings. He’s faced just four over the minimum for the spring.
“He made a statement this spring in a year he’s had to make a statement,” pitching coach Chris Bosio said.
Cabrera, 25, was sent to Class AA Tennessee last April to work as a starter and went 9-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 18 starts, striking out 107 in 112 2/3 innings (39 walks), before a promotion to Class AAA Iowa.
He took his 93 mph fastball and slider/changeup combination back to the bullpen at Iowa with mixed results in 15 appearances (7.08 ERA) before the call to the Cubs (three runs in six innings).
“I feel good, and I’m just trying to work a lot,” said Cabrera, who said he’s confident.
With recent cuts putting the bullpen at potentially one or two over the limit, Cabrera looks as close to a lock as any candidate remaining whose name isn’t Pedro Strop or Justin Grimm — if only because, without options available, the Cubs lose him if they cut him.
“He’s definitely put himself in a position to be talked about,” said Bosio, who has very few “locks” he’s willing to list. “We’re not in position to hand it over to anybody. We’re trying to get the most out of the guys as we push toward Opening Day. He’s one of the guys definitely in the mix.”