Twins make room for Cabrera
Acquired from Oakland for prospect Tyler Ladendorf on Friday, Cabrera arrived just in time to take batting practice Saturday, met with a large group of Twin Cities media and then learned he would be batting second against the Los Angeles Angels in front of Joe Mauer.
The easy-going Cabrera even made time to play a joke on the reporters, initially speaking in Spanish.
"They told me you guys speak Spanish, no?" he said to the reporters.
To make room for the new shortstop, the Twins optioned infielder Brian Buscher to Triple-A Rochester.
Manager Ron Gardenhire hopes putting Cabrera in the No. 2 spot would "stretch" the lineup's strength, with Mauer batting third, slugger Justin Morneau in the cleanup spot and Joe Crede following in the No. 5 hole.
"I've just got to get on base for those two guys," Cabrera said.
It was the second time Cabrera had to catch a flight to Minnesota after switching teams at the trading deadline. In 2004, he was traded from Montreal to Boston in the deal that sent Nomar Garciaparra to the Chicago Cubs. The Red Sox were in Minnesota at the time.
"I always admired the way [the Twins] played," Cabrera said. "They play small baseball, and I like that."
Coincidentally, Cabrera was facing his old team -- he played with the Angels from 2005-07.
"He's going to really feed off of what Ron and the Twins do," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's going to fit right in on everything from the base running side to the focus they have on defense."
Buscher batted .227 with 11 RBIs in 53 games for the Twins.
With Buscher gone, Gardenhire said he was concerned about his team's depth at first base. He had planned on using outfielder Michael Cuddyer to back up Morneau at first, but Cuddyer was expected to miss the Angels series with a stiff back. Cuddyer complained of soreness in his back after Friday night's loss to Los Angeles.
That leaves Brendan Harris as Morneau's backup.
"[Cuddyer] says he can pinch hit, but I really don't believe that's the right thing to sit around all night and then pinch hit late with a stiff back," Gardenhire said.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press