CLEVELAND -- Asdrubal Cabrera was back in the Indians clubhouse on Thursday, munching on an apple as he doled out hugs and handshakes to his coaches and teammates. After a quick change of clothes, Cabrera was in the batting cages 45 minutes before the team's scheduled workout at Progressive Field. A short glimpse at Day 1, part two of Cabrera's time with the Indians seemed to mimic the approach he adopted in his month at Triple-A Buffalo. It's exactly what manager Eric Wedge wanted to see and what he wants to continue seeing as Cabrera resumes his spot as an everyday player with the Tribe.
"He's on the right path right now in the regard of what he's doing physically," Wedge said. "He looks better, his routine is better and fundamentally he's improved as well. "Now, what we've got to do is continue to develop him and get him back to where he's the player that we feel like he can be, and the type of player he needs to be." Cabrera will be officially called up from Triple-A Buffalo on Friday. Seldom-used infielder Jorge Velandia was outrighted off the 40-man roster and sent back to Buffalo on Thursday. After Cabrera played a pivotal role in the Tribe's 2007 postseason role, the Indians gave the 22-year-old switch-hitter the everyday second base job at the outset of the season. Aside from the highlight of converting the 13th unassisted triple-play in Major League history, it was mostly lowlights for Cabrera, who was demoted on June 9 after laboring to a .184 batting average. But as fast as Cabrera's strengths seemed to vanish at the beginning of 2008, they reappeared in Buffalo. In 34 games with the Bisons, Cabrera batted .326 with four homers, seven doubles, a triple and 13 RBIs in 141 at-bats. He was the International League Batter of the Week last week, hitting .394 (13-for-33) with three homers and six RBIs and eight runs scored in eight games. Cabrera didn't go without a hiccup or two, though. After 13 games, he was hitting an astonishing .456, only to see it dip more than .150 points over the next 13 games. During that span, he was fined an undisclosed amount by the IL for his ejection from a game on July 3. "It's a good sign," Wedge said. "He had some struggles after that too and that's good as well. He didn't have it all figured out yet. We made it very clear on what he needs to do and he understands that." Getting Cabrera's bat in check wasn't the only goal of the demotion. The Indians also wanted Cabrera to improve his conditioning, which, like his plate performance, had declined drastically since his impactful second half of '07. Cabrera wasn't noticeably slimmer, though Wedge said he had lost some weight. But there's more to it than just what the scale reads, Wedge said. "It's about being in better overall condition that plays into his baseball game better," Wedge said. "It's just a matter of him having the discipline he needs to have daily to maintain that. He's a young kid and still learning." Wedge wouldn't go as far to dub Cabrera as the team's everyday second baseman, but "he's going to play a lot." "We're going to have some challenges in regard to playing him," Wedge said. "We're going to do the best we can with it and he obviously needs to get regular work." Most of that work will come at second base, Wedge said, even though Cabrera played 29 of his 34 games at shortstop with the Bisons. The Indians have insisted that Cabrera's Triple-A playing time is no indication that they have plans to move Jhonny Peralta elsewhere. Utility infielder Jamey Carroll will likely see the biggest dip in playing time upon Cabrera's return. Thrust into the everyday role after Cabrera's demotion and Josh Barfield's finger injury, Carroll stepped up admirably, batting .303, primarily in the No. 2 spot, since June 11. "I played because of the situation," Carroll said. "I knew sooner or later Josh would come back from the injury and [Cabrera] was going to come back up. He's doing well and I'm excited for him."
Andrew Gribble is an associate reporter for MLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.