February 25, 2015

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) Offseason acquisition Asdrubal Cabrera is eager to help the Tampa Bay Rays anyway he can, whether it's at shortstop or second base.

The two-time AL All-Star just hopes his new team doesn't decide it needs him to shuttle back and forth between both positions in search of a middle infield combination.

''I would love to stay at one position. I think it's hard for someone to play short and then come back to second. It's not the same,'' said Cabrera, who signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract as a free agent in January.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan broke into the lineup with Cleveland as a second baseman early in his career, but would up spending most of his nearly seven seasons with the Indians as the club's regular shortstop.

When Washington acquired him at the trade deadline last July, he was shifted to second base for the remainder of the Nationals' run to the NL East title.

Cabrera reported to training camp in advance of Friday's full-squad reporting date, and has been taking ground balls at both positions.

''We're going to be versatile, and he's going to be versatile - going back and forth, getting his work in at both spots,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said, adding there's no definitive timetable for a decision.

''The earlier the better because it gives the guys a better sense going into the season,'' Cash added. ''It doesn't always play out that way. But Cabby, in his conversations during the offseason with everybody, has been very open-minded. We're ecstatic to have him in there every day.''

Cabrera played a combined 146 games for the Indians and Nationals last season, batting a career-low .241 with 14 homers, 31 doubles and 61 RBIs. He made 92 starts at shortstop and 48 at second base.

Prospect Tim Beckham, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, and Nick Franklin, acquired from Seattle in the trade that sent David Price to Detroit last summer, are among the players competing for the starting job at shortstop. If Cabrera winds up there, Franklin could wind up platooning with Logan Forsythe at second base.

''I think anything's possible. It's too early to tell,'' Cash said. ''We've got to see some of these guys play.''

Cabrera, meanwhile, will continue preparing for the possibility of landing in either spot - or both.

''Any position they want me to play,'' he said, ''I'll be there.''

NOTES: Relief pitcher Grant Balfour has left camp to travel to Australia to be with his ailing father, who's battling pancreatic cancer. ''It's so early right now, it shouldn't affect too much,'' Cash said of the time the reliever will miss from spring training. ''Grant does a good job keeping himself in shape. I talked to him ... and he said whatever happens, I'll keep my arm going.'' ... RHP Ronald Belisario reported to camp on Wednesday. His arrival had been delayed by visa issues.

You May Like