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Monday, August 17, 2009

Interviews with PawSox: Fernando Cabrera

When Daniel Bard got called up to Boston, the Pawtucket Red Sox turned to Fernando Cabrera to be their new closer. He has since turned into a dominant, lights out closer for the PawSox. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he had spent 8 years in the minor league systems of the Indians and the Orioles. He was released by the Orioles after 2008 and signed to a minor league contract with the Sox this year. Having spent that many years in the minor leagues, he was eligible as a sixth year free agent to opt out of his contract, but liked pitching for Pawtucket and the Red Sox system so much, and having much better success this year, he decided to stay. Cabrera represented Pawtucket at the Triple A All Star Game this year and earned the save in that game as the International League beat the Pacific Coast League. He's had his ups and downs, having off years mixed in with injuries and good years, and made a couple of major league appearances since he first signed in 1999. He represented Puerto Rico in the WBC in 2006 and 2009.

This year Cabrera has been quietly amassing a fantastic set of numbers. In 36 appearances and 45 innings pitched, he has earned 19 saves, allowing only 34 hits, 19 walks, and 9 earned runs, while striking out 44, limiting opposing batter's to a .209 BA, and posting a 1.80 ERA. It looks like he may finally have reached the final level before being called up to the big leagues one more time. I had a chance to speak with Cabrera after the July 27th PawSox game at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI. Not knowing beforehand if he spoke English or not, I prepared my questions in Spanish, but discovered he speaks English well, and answered them in English. I found him to be a very congenial person to speak with. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in Boston in September when the rosters expand.

Q~ Was it important to you to be on the Triple A All Star Team?
(¿Es importante que usted esté en el equipo de los Triple A All Stars?)
A~ It is really, really important because that is a sign of recognition that you had a great season in the first half.

Q~ You have good statistics this year. Are you happy this year?
(Tiene usted estadísticas bueno esto ano. ¿Esta contente esto ano?)
A~ I’m really happy here. I’m really happy because I’m working hard to do that. Things go well this year. I’m working hard to keep things going well this year.

Q~ You wear number 38, the number of Curt Schilling. These are big shoes to fill, yes?
(¿Tiene usted el numero treinte-ocho, el numero de Curt Schilling. Es zapatos grandes, no es?)
A~ This is a number I always wear in my career, and I never thought I tried to use it because it was Curt Schilling’s number. I like that number and now here I have the opportunity to take it, so it is a number I use throughout my career in the minors, so I never have the chance to use it in the big leagues. It is a number I like to wear even in Puerto Rico... and that’s good because sometimes you feel comfortable with some [things like that], so I get the chance to wear it here.

Q~ What part of your game have you been working on the most this year?
(¿Qué parte de tu juego que han estado tratando de mejorar esta ano?)
A~ I work a lot on the mental part, focus, and attacking the hitters. I try to attack the hitters better than I was doing in the past. It is more the mental part… that I try to do better. It works for me, I feel more mature, I feel more complete in that part. You learn more about the game, you are more able to control your emotions, control everything in your game because this is pretty much a mental game. That was the only thing I really want to work on. A lot of times you don’t know if you’re better on that, and you go to get some more experience… I can feel I’m better in that. That’s good, I’m going to keep working to get better every day.

Q~ Do you like The USA and Rhode Island?
(¿Te gustan los Estados Unidos en general, y de Rhode Island en particular?)
A~ I am here to work, so it’s not about what the city has to offer, but it’s a city I like because we can see the support from the fans. It’s a good stadium.

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