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Cabrera to skip Caribbean World Series

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.

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.