But where the 25-year-old Cabrera really needs to relax is his own mind. He admitted he let his contractual situation affect him last season."Last year, I think I thought about that too much," he said. "I wanted to be on the team from the first day. Sometimes, you want to try too much to earn that spot. This year, I know I'm in the same situation, but I don't think about it." The Indians think Cabrera, by virtue of his mid-90s fastball and deceptive splitter, can someday emerge as a late-inning option in their 'pen, perhaps even in a closing role. For now, he has to master middle relief. When the Tribe traded veteran closer Bob Wickman last summer and tried Fausto Carmona out in the closer's role, Cabrera knew that should have been his opportunity to seize. But his struggles early in the year didn't make that even a consideration. Cabrera learned quite a bit from the trying season. Most notably, he learned to appreciate its length. "No matter how bad it's going, you still have time to make a comeback," he said. "The numbers don't show it, but I feel like in the last two months of the season I did a better job." Actually, the numbers do show Cabrera had a fine August. He pitched 11 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in that month and struck out 18 batters from Aug. 11-Sept. 2. But he flared up again in September, giving up eight runs over his last eight outings. "I need to be more consistent," he said. One consistency in Cabrera's corner the last couple years is the Indians' unwavering belief that he'll pan out as planned, and that this business of holding onto him in a bullpen that needed and received an overhaul will be faith rewarded. "I truly believe he can do it," Willis said. "But he's in the process of proving to himself that he can do it on a consistent basis."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.