CHICAGO -- For as long as he's a member of the White Sox, Melky Cabrera will have a section of adoring fans.The question of how much longer he will be in Chicago -- whether he leaves before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, or when he is a free agent
CHICAGO -- For as long as he's a member of the White Sox, Melky Cabrera will have a section of adoring fans.
The question of how much longer he will be in Chicago -- whether he leaves before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, or when he is a free agent after this season -- loomed large as Cabrera dazzled in a 4-3 loss to Seattle on Saturday, putting together his first four-hit game of the season and making another strong defensive play.
"I don't think about it," Cabrera said, of the possibility he's moved. "My focus is just to play baseball, come here every day and play baseball the best way that I can do it. I would like to stay here, but that's not a decision for me to make.
"The [front office] are the ones that know what decisions to make."
Cabrera has twice been traded in his career, though neither came at the Deadline, which brings the additional challenge of dealing with midseason rumors.
The 32-year-old left fielder, often maligned for a lack of mobility, still showed he has the chops to be an above-average defensive player by nailing Jean Segura as the Mariners shortstop tried stretching a single off the wall into a double to lead off the game. It was Cabrera's eighth outfield assist of the season, placing him in the Major League lead.
"He just has a tremendous awareness of his body, of his balance, and he obviously has a strong arm," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "He trusts it. Over the years, he's learned to trust it. He's sometimes seen as maybe not moving as well as you'd want him to, but boy, I'll tell you, he does what he needs to do."
The jovial left fielder, ever the showman, saluted the cluster of fans behind him.
"I like to enjoy the game, and that's part of the game, too," Cabrera said. "They're cheering for us, they're cheering for me, and I'm just trying to share that excitement with them. That's why I'm always talking with them, raising my hand to say hello. It's just the way that I like to play baseball."
While Cabrera's defensive performance has been impressive as of late, it's been his performances at the plate and his expiring contract -- an opposing team would likely have to take only a portion of what's left of the $15 million Cabrera's due this year -- that will figure into his activity on the trade market.
Cabrera has hit .357 with three homers in 42 July at-bats after hitting .313 in June, providing clutch hits along the way, including a walk-off against Texas on June 30 and a ninth-inning single to break up a no-hitter on July 9.
Cabrera drove in a pair Saturday, starting with a 420-foot leadoff homer, as projected by Statcast™, in the first inning off a Felix Hernandez fastball to give his club a 1-0 lead. He would add three more hits in the ballgame, including a go-ahead RBI single in the third to bring home Adam Engel and a ninth-inning single through the hole as the White Sox eventually had the winning run on base against Mariners closer Edwin Diaz.
"It's just the consistency I think he's demonstrated probably most of his career," Renteria said. "And it doesn't matter who's throwing. I think he gives you from both sides of the plate an opportunity to either get on base, strike the ball and do some damage. Whatever the case might be, it's been pretty fun to watch."
Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago who covered the White Sox on Saturday.