And it just so happens to be a big blow to an Indians team already dealing with an inconsistent offense. The Tribe has lost its shortstop and leadoff hitter for a yet-to-be-determined timeframe. If history is any indication with such an injury, a six-week absence for Cabrera, who broke the arm when colliding with teammate Jhonny Peralta in the first inning Monday night, seems like a reasonable starting point.
"There's a high probability he'll have surgery," manager Manny Acta said. "We'll give [reporters] a complete update on Wednesday."
Acta penciled the newly promoted Jason Donald into his lineup at shortstop for Tuesday's series finale against the Rays. Donald, who batted .287 with a homer and seven RBIs in 33 games for Triple-A Columbus, could begin to see regular time in that spot. Second baseman Luis Valbuena, still sorting through issues both offensively and defensively, will probably also see some time at short, with veteran Mark Grudzielanek filling in at second.
Cabrera, who recently returned from left oblique soreness, was actually not off to the best of starts this season. He's batting .287 with a .368 slugging percentage and .322 on-base percentage. But on a Tribe team with a .252 average for the season, these numbers qualified as particularly strong. And Cabrera's defense at short is considered pivotal for a Tribe team with so many sinkerballers in the rotation.
"It's a big loss," Acta said. "He's one of those players we could not afford to lose for any period of time. Not only what he does defensively, but also offensively. You can ask any manager about losing his everyday shortstop, and it's not an easy blow to take."
Cabrera suffered the blow while in pursuit of a Hank Blalock grounder up the middle. He was playing right of the second-base bag in an infield shift. As he made a diving stop of the ball, third baseman Peralta collided with him. Cabrera writhed on the ground in obvious pain, and trainers from both teams immediately tended to him.
"I didn't see Jhonny, I was just trying to chase the ball," Cabrera said. "As soon as I hit with Jhonny, I heard something pop. I knew it was pretty bad."
Acta, who also rushed to the scene, said Cabrera immediately told him in Spanish that the bone was broken.
"He was in a lot of pain," Acta said. "He was literally crying in pain."
Acta can't weep over the long-term loss of Cabrera. There was another game to play Tuesday, without Cabrera or Grady Sizemore, who remains sidelined by a left knee bruise. With Cabrera out of the picture, the Indians were ready to get their first look at Donald, one of four prospects acquired in last summer's Cliff Lee trade with the Phillies.
"Life goes on," Acta said. "It's a team effort. A couple guys need to pick it up a notch and give us a lift."