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Everth Cabrera arrives in Orioles camp with a clean slate

Orioles infielder Everth Cabrera points during spring training at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Fla.
Orioles infielder Everth Cabrera points during spring training at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Fla. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

SARASOTA, FLA. — With his off-the-field issues finally resolved, new Orioles infielder Everth Cabrera was welcomed to the Ed Smith Stadium complex with a new opportunity and a clean slate.

The Orioles made their one-year, $2.4 million deal with the former San Diego Padres shortstop complete Wednesday morning, allowing him to participate in the team's first full-squad workout of spring training.

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"I'm happy to be here with the Orioles organization," Cabrera said Wednesday after his first workout. "It's super exciting, and I'm hungry. I can't wait to start playing. … I always think every spring training that I've got to compete. I don't care where they're going to put me. I'm going to play hard and I'm going to compete every single day when they give me the opportunity to play."

Before they completed the deal, Cabrera's pending resisting arrest charge was resolved this week, something that Orioles manager Buck Showalter said was a "prerequisite."

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"That's why it took as long as it did," Showalter said. "It wasn't going to happen if it wasn't [resolved], and we felt comfortable with it."

Cabrera, 28, faced a misdemeanor charge that was scheduled to go to trial next month and faced up to one year in jail, but he made a plea deal in San Diego County court Monday.

He received three years of probation, a $655 fine and will have to perform 80 hours of volunteer work within a year, according to a San Diego District Attorney's Office spokesman.

"It's resolved and he's ready to play ball," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. "I believe in Everth's ability to help our team. He's 28 years old. He's on a one-year deal and he's got a great opportunity.

"He brings an element to our ballclub that is an additive. He's an excellent base runner and base-stealer, and that's something we need. If we can leverage his on-base capabilities with our power hitters, that's something good to talk about."

Cabrera has 99 total stolen bases in the past three seasons, including a National League-leading 44 in 48 attempts in 2012.

The switch-hitter was an NL All-Star in 2013, hitting .283/.355/.381 with 37 stolen bases before his season was cut short by a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal.

"We always learn from, [and I did from] making the mistakes I did," Cabrera said of Biogenesis. "My mind is fresh and I'm ready to move [on]. I'm ready to play baseball and happy to be here."

Mostly a shortstop in his six-year major league career, Cabrera likely will see most of his playing time with the Orioles at second base. He said he's open to playing the outfield as well -- he played there briefly in Triple-A in 2012 -- but Showalter said the team initially will take a look at Cabrera in the infield.

"A lot of people considered him one of the better infielders in the National League a couple of years ago," Showalter said. "We'll see where the need is and see if he can fit it. He gives us some flexibility. .. I think we'll try to familiarize ourselves on the infield initially.

"We've got a lot of guys we want to see in the outfield. We feel comfortable with some of the work and some of the due diligence that he can present himself well out there. We just want to know where he is compared to where he was."

His speed gives the Orioles a dynamic they haven't had. Last season, the Orioles were last in the major leagues with 44 stolen bases. Because of that, he could be a leadoff option.

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"He brings a lot of energy out there, that's for sure," said Orioles reliever Brad Brach, who played with Cabrera in San Diego. "He's a spark plug out there. He plays hard. He's diving all over the field. He's got a good arm. He's got a lot of range in the field, and he likes to run the bases when he's out there. [He] definitely [has] a lot of energy and hopefully [gives us] a spark at the top of the lineup."

Cabrera hit just .232/.272/.300 with 18 steals in 26 attempts and missed 69 games last season with left hamstring injuries, but the Orioles were confident that he's healthy again.

"Everth's been working hard all winter down at St. Thomas University [in South Florida] for the last eight weeks to resolve some of the soft tissue injuries that he had," Duquette said. "He's worked real hard to get himself in shape, so he can be healthy and contribute to the team."

Ultimately, it was Cabrera's legal issues -- not any health concerns -- that delayed the deal one week.

"Just because somebody's made a mistake or not doesn't mean they don't have good character or good baseball character," Showalter said. "There's some unknowns. … I have a lot of trust in the people we talk to, including Everth, where we are, but I'm not going to be surprised by anything. I'm not going to walk around behind him or browbeat him. We'll see if he takes the opportunity he's getting here and runs with it."

Cabrera said he's eager to show he can take advantage of the opportunity after arriving in Sarasota with his share of baggage.

"For sure, just back to back, making mistakes," he said. "Like I said before, we all learn from that part and I've got my mind fresh and all that in the past is in the back [of my mind].

"Now I'm a good guy. I'm going to do work every single day."

eencina@baltsun.com

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