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Clean and sober, Everth on comeback trail

After three-month stint in rehab, infielder getting another chance
MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Infielder Everth Cabrera's turning point may have been when the government of his home country of Nicaragua sent him to Cuba for three months of rehabilitation in 2016 following a string of off-field incidents over several years.

At a time when he should have been just entering the prime of his baseball career, Cabrera was:

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Infielder Everth Cabrera's turning point may have been when the government of his home country of Nicaragua sent him to Cuba for three months of rehabilitation in 2016 following a string of off-field incidents over several years.

At a time when he should have been just entering the prime of his baseball career, Cabrera was:

• Briefly detained following an argument with a fellow citizen in Nicaragua in 2015.

• Arrested on accusations of driving under the influence in September 2014 and charged with resisting arrest.

• Suspended from MLB for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2013, a time he recalls as his low point.

"I touched the floor really bad," said Cabrera, who is now 30 years old.

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That 2013 season also happened to be Cabrera's best in the Majors. He set career-highs with a .283 batting average, 108 hits, four home runs and five triples, earning a spot on the National League All-Star team. However, his season was derailed by a wrist injury, then the 50-game PED suspension in August.

Struggles during stops with the Orioles and Giants organizations in 2015 culminated in his release from San Francisco's Triple-A affiliate when he reportedly refused to play because management didn't give him a September callup to the big leagues.

Cabrera said he got caught up in the wrong crowd -- people he thought were friends and fans, but who instead just liked that he had money -- and the infielder turned to alcohol and drugs.

Cabrera said he went "crazy."

"When you open your eyes, you're around a lot of people you don't know," he said. "Those people trying to get you to the clubs, to the bars, all that kind of [stuff]."

Cabrera moved to Nicaragua to "try the real life" and shift back into a new mindset where he could improve himself. Rehabilitation in Cuba got him started on the right track.

"That was the best three months, I can say, in the season," he said. "That was my tough season right there, because now you're talking about your life, not only baseball."

The White Sox organization took notice of Cabrera's maturation. Manager Rick Renteria, who coached the Padres in multiple capacities when Cabrera was with San Diego, said the Sox reached out. Cabrera was signed to a Minor League contract in January.

"There were no promises made," Renteria said. "He's prepared to do whatever the organization wishes him to do -- whether that's play in the Minor Leagues or be with us. He's just coming in to show everybody that he's capable of being on a Major League field again."

Cabrera is focused on baseball. On Wednesday, he was working out until the last moments before a 9 a.m. team meeting. He didn't come into the clubhouse until the final 20 minutes before the team took the field to play against the D-backs. And after the game, he went straight to the weight room.

Pitcher Cory Luebke, who spent time with Cabrera in the Padres organization and now occupies the locker two down from him in the White Sox clubhouse, called Cabrera a "fireball."

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Luebke laughed and described how Cabrera barreled into the catcher in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game against the Reds. Cabrera scored three runs, and the White Sox won 10-9.

"You know what you're going to get from him every day," Luebke said. "He gives everything he's got every day -- offensively, defensively, on the basepaths ... just a complete player."

Now six months sober, Cabrera is ready for his opportunity at a comeback.

"My body feels unbelievable, and every day right now, my mind, it's lifted," he said. "Every day is a new day, a new opportunity that God has given to me."

Logan Newman is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Chicago White Sox, Everth Cabrera