SARASOTA, FLA. — This spring, Everth Cabrera is receiving his first extended time at second base since playing in Low-A minor league ball in 2008, as the Orioles evaluate what the former All-Star shortstop can do.
Cabrera started his fifth Grapefruit League game at second base Wednesday afternoon, and his first-inning defensive miscue was glaring in the Orioles' 5-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Ed Smith Stadium.
Four batters into the game, Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez had runners at first and third with one out when Jays first baseman Justin Smoak hit a chopper to second, where Cabrera bobbled the ball — preventing him from turning a double play — and threw to first for the second out, allowing a run to score.
"We had a double-play ball we didn't turn, which cost [Gonzalez] another 10 or 12 pitches and another run," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Instead of getting out of the inning unscathed, Gonzalez allowed two runs after an RBI double by Kevin Pillar.
"That's a play I have to make," Cabrera said after the game. "That's a routine play. ... I don't make that double play and it makes the pitcher throw more and more and more. [If] that play is during the season, I've got to make that play. That's what spring training is for, just practice, and practice and practice. Get better from here."
Showalter said he will be patient with Cabrera, adding that moving from shortstop to second base involves adjusting your internal clock.
"You have to keep in mind that he's played shortstop a lot more," Showalter said. "I try to keep that in mind, and he's made some good plays there, too, that some second basemen can't make. Obviously, we've been spoiled by other guys. You attribute it to how well the other guys have [played]."
Cabrera's competition at second base and for the utility spot — Jonathan Schoop and Ryan Flaherty — are having strong springs, especially defensively. It's unlikely all three can make the 25-man Opening Day roster and, in addition to being new to the organization, Cabrera has the least experience at the position.
"I've got to play more second base," Cabrera said. "I think I'm going to be all right. I'm just trying to make the routine play. I have a lot of good stuff [here], a lot of good coaches who are telling me a lot of good things, little things that can be better every single day. I feel comfortable here."
Cabrera agreed with Showalter that there are timing adjustments to make when switching from shortstop to second.
"There is a different clock," Cabrera said. "You have more time at second base. You have to move your legs at shortstop, so you can get lazy sometimes [at second base] on a couple ground balls. On the double play [ball], you've got to make that play. Those are little things that I think I have to practice more. As I play more and more, I'm going to be better."
After an 0-for-3 day, designated hitter Matt Wieters is hitless in 20 Grapefruit League at-bats. … Wednesday's announced attendance of 7,403 was the fifth spring sellout in six home games at Ed Smith Stadium. ... After allowing Pillar's RBI double, Gonzalez retired the final seven hitters he faced. His three innings tied Wei-Yin Chen for the longest outing by an Orioles starter this spring. ... Bud Norris, Dylan Bundy, Brad Brach and Hendrickson are scheduled to pitch in today's game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter. … Ubaldo Jimenez will make his next start Friday against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. T.JMcFarland, Tyler Wilson and Steve Johnson also are scheduled to pitch. … Chen is scheduled to start Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Dunedin. Right-hander Kevin Gausman will start a seven-inning "B" game that day on the main field at Ed Smith Stadium. … Showalter said he has no plans to give Steve Pearce some spring innings at third base, but "it's still in the back of our mind."