BOSTON -- Melky Cabrera was not sure if a second chance would arrive after the Indians parted ways with him back in June. The veteran outfielder went home, continued to get in daily workouts and held out hope that a team would come calling with another big league job.
It was Cleveland that eventually called him back, but there were no guarantees and a Minor League contract was the only thing being offered. Cabrera took the job in July and that decision paved the way for nights like Tuesday, when he played a key role in powering the American League Central-leading Tribe to a 6-3 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
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"You really just can't let your head down," Cabrera said through team interpeter Will Clements. "Thank God the Indians called me and gave me that opportunity."
In Tuesday's win, Cabrera launched a home run -- his third in as many games -- and added a double and single for the Indians. One night earlier, his solo shot helped spark a comeback in Cleveland's 5-4 victory. On Sunday afternoon, Cabrera launched a grand slam in a rout of the Orioles.
Over his past eight games, Cabrera has turned in a .424/.424/.909 slash line in 33 at-bats, in which he's hit five of the six homers he has on the season and collected 14 RBIs. He has done that damage as the Indians' regular right fielder, filling a role that was vacated by injuries to both Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin.
The 34-year-old Cabrera went unsigned over the offseason and throughout Spring Training. The Indians signed him to a Minor League deal originally on May 1 and circumstances led Cabrera into the Indians' lineup before the end of the month, and before he was fully prepared. He hit .207 over 17 games, leading to Cleveland designating the outfielder for assignment on June 14.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
Cabrera was granted his release, continued to go without a job and then signed again with the Tribe on July 5.
"We had to let him go the first time," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And I was so happy we were able to get him back. And it's paying a lot of dividends. His bat [has helped], but he's a good teammate, too. I was talking about it the other day, he cares about the right things and he's given us a lot of stability out there."
Since his return from Triple-A Columbus on July 20, all Cabrera has done is hit .319/.361/.549 in 28 games.
"I was waiting for an opportunity," Cabrera said. "This is a tremendous opportunity for me and I'm really thankful to the Indians for giving it to me. ... [And it's] definitely not just the manager -- it's the whole team. [Francisco] Lindor, [Jose] Ramirez, [Edwin] Encarnacion. We really have a great group here and they've done a ton to support me throughout."