SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers have a new third baseman in Asdrúbal Cabrera, and all everyone wants to know is how he feels about replacing Adrian Beltre.
There is more to him than that. Here are seven cool tidbits about Cabrera:
Cabrera was 3 years old when he started out as a switch-hitter in Venezuela.
“Yep. I mean, my mom said when I started playing around by myself, I was swinging from both sides,” Cabrera said. “I don’t remember it, but right now, there is nothing better than being a switch-hitter. You have more chances to play every day.
When Cabrera was 15 years old, he quit school to focus on being a professional baseball player. He told his father that if he didn’t sign with a team within a year, he would give up his dream and go back to school.
“There was a day when I came home from practice and I told my dad that I want to play baseball and he gave me the opportunity,” Cabrera said. “Everything happens in the moment. I was not sure if somebody was going to come watch me in Venezuela, but they did.”
Cabrera signed with the Mariners on Aug. 26, 2002, at age 16.
In 2007, when he was in the Indians farm system, Cabrera’s wife, Lismar, gave him a white beaded necklace to wear. She said it would bring him luck, and he was promoted to the Indians in August.
“I have it at home,” Cabrera said. “I am not using it anymore. My wife made that necklace. She told me that necklace was going to be my good luck for the year. It really was a good-luck charm. She was the one who told me I was going to play in the big leagues that year.”
On May 12, 2008, Cabrera recorded an unassisted triple play while playing second base for the Indians against the Blue Jays.
“All I remember is I made three outs,” Cabrera said. “It was fun. I threw the ball to the fans. It happened quickly. The game has been around a long time -- I didn’t know not many guys had made an unassisted triple play. That moment, I wasn’t thinking about it. I just threw the ball to the fans.”
Cabrera has been traded twice near the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The first was in 2014 (from the Indians to the Nationals) and then last year (from the Mets to the Phillies).
“My first time was a little hard,” Cabrera said. “I had played for Cleveland seven seasons. It was more hard for my son than me. He was born in Cleveland, and he spent all that time with me. When I got traded, he was the one who started crying. He said he didn’t want to go anywhere. He always came to the ballpark with me.”
Cabrera has five walk-off home runs, including one for the Indians against the Royals off new teammate Jesse Chavez. He had an epic bat flip after an 11th-inning walk-off home run for the Mets against the Phillies on Sept. 22, 2016.
“I’m just going there and trying to do my job,” Cabrera said. “I don’t know if it’s luck or somebody blessed me. … It’s just another win.”
He was known as Baby Omar with the Indians after being acquired from the Mariners in 2006.
“Really cool,” said Cabrera, a fan of Omar Vizquel. “He was the guy when I was growing up. He was the big infield star from Venezuela. Every infielder was looking to be like him. As soon I got traded from Seattle to Cleveland, they gave me the No. 13 for shortstop. It was kind of special. I didn’t ask for it; they gave it to me.”