D-backs third baseman Asdrúbal Cabrera has been productive early in the season. Entering Thursday’s action against the Nationals, he had a .405 on-base percentage. Cabrera is not known as a patient hitter , but he is leading the team in walks with eight.
“I feel really good at the plate," he said. "That’s why I’m walking a little more. I’m just waiting for my pitches. If [the pitchers are] throwing strikes, I’m swinging. If not, I’m taking [the walks]. That makes the difference.”
Manager Torey Lovullo said Cabrera is more than just a productive hitter; he is a leader in the clubhouse.
“He is helping our culture breathe every single day, but on the field, he has played the corners extremely well,” Lovullo said. “The at-bats have been really productive. It’s about being patient. It about understanding what the at-bat is asking for and executing at a high level. He is not missing the pitch he is looking for.”
Although Cabrera is off to a great start, Lovullo wants him to be available for the long season. That means giving the 35-year-old time off once in a while.
“We have to be mindful of his workload. There is going to be a strategy to it,” Lovullo said. “I don’t know exactly what that is when it comes to overall numbers or games played, but we are going to be mindful of it.”
Cabrera said he understood what the skipper was talking about, but said his body felt great and he doesn't move around much at third base.
• Infielder Ketel Marte [right hamstring injury] is still getting treatment, however, he is on his feet and doing some light movement. He still hasn’t done any baseball activities, according to Lovullo.
• Right-hander Joakim Soria [left calf strain] has been throwing on flat ground. If things continue to go well, he should be throwing a bullpen on Saturday.
• Lovullo said first-base coach Dave McKay is slowly making progress after suffering a lacerated spleen and a broken rib after falling in the dugout during Spring Training.
“The way I could describe it is, his insides are not functioning the way they are supposed to,” Lovullo said. “One thing had been leading to another where there was discomfort and a lot of pain that he was dealing with. He is improving day by day. When we see him at the ballpark, it’s still unknown. We are in constant communication with him and his spirits are very high.”
Lovullo's connection to Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson Day means a lot to Lovullo, who has a small connection to the baseball icon. Robinson’s wife, Rachel, would attend Lovullo’s baseball games while he was attending UCLA, the same school Jackie attended. Robinson attended UCLA in the late 1930s and early ‘40s.
Lovullo is proud of the fact that Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947.
“My life in a very fortunate way did overlap with Jackie Robinson’s life,” Lovullo said. “He played on the same baseball field many years apart. I was raised in a UCLA household. So, I have a natural connection to him.
"You then fast forward to his life, the sacrifices and the barriers that he broke, they are amazing. You talk about courage -- for somebody to take the chances that he did, to go out, block everything out and being one of the most productive baseball players in his time is an amazing accomplishment. … It’s a special day for me. It’s a special day for baseball. I hope everybody steps back today and realizes what he did in this game.”