Cabrera to skip Caribbean World Series

Updated: January 30, 2007, 11:14 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera will skip the Caribbean World Series at the team's request so he can rest up for next season.

Melky Cabrera

Cabrera played the last part of the winter league season in the Dominican Republic and participated in the playoffs, said Mark Newman, the Yankees' senior vice president of baseball operations.

"We've asked that he shut it down at this point. It's been a long year for him," Newman said Tuesday on a conference call to discuss the team's top prospects. "We thought he needed some rest."

Cabrera was a pleasant surprise as a rookie last season, getting extensive playing time because of injuries to Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield. Cabrera played excellent defense, especially in left field, and batted .280 with seven home runs, 50 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 130 games. He also scored 75 runs and had 26 doubles in 460 at-bats.

The 22-year-old Cabrera enters this season as New York's fourth outfielder, the top backup behind Matsui, Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu.

Newman also talked extensively about a few of the club's top young pitchers, including Philip Hughes -- the gem of the organization.

Hughes might have a chance to win a spot in the rotation during spring training, though Newman said the best-case scenario would be to have the right-hander begin the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The 20-year-old Hughes went 10-3 with a 2.25 ERA in 21 starts at Double-A Trenton last year. He struck out 138 in 116 innings, and opponents hit only .179 against him.

Newman said the kid's minor league performance has been "off the charts."

"He's a pretty mature young guy," Newman said. "We think of him as a long-term, high-end starter. ... But he's still a prospect and until he does it in New York, he's just a prospect."

The Yankees also are excited about right-handers Humberto Sanchez and Ross Ohlendorf, among others.

Sanchez, acquired from Detroit this offseason in a trade for Sheffield, has the stuff to be a starter and the mental makeup to be a late-game reliever, Newman said. Sanchez is expected to begin the season at Triple-A.

Ohlendorf, acquired from Arizona in the deal for Randy Johnson, throws a lot of strikes and could make an impact for the Yankees this season, Newman said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press