CLEVELAND: When starting pitcher Derek Lowe arrived in the Indians clubhouse after an October trade, he was taken aback by the uncertain contract status of his teammates.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team or heard of a team that didn’t have anybody signed through the next year,” Lowe said. “Think about that. Clearly the majority of the guys will be back, but no one is signed through next year. Now we’ve got one.”
That one is shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, whose two-year contract extension was officially announced Wednesday. A 2011 All-Star, Cabrera was locked up through 2014 with a deal that will reportedly pay him $6.5 million in 2013 and $10 million in its final year. He signed a reported $4.55 million contract for 2012 to avoid salary arbitration last winter.
“This is the team I want to be on for my career,” Cabrera said. “The team is like a family, that’s why I want to stay here.”
Batting .273 last season, Cabrera led the Indians in runs (87), hits (165), RBI (92) and stolen bases (17). His RBI total was the highest by an Indians shortstop since Lou Boudreau in 1948. His 25 home runs were the most by a Tribe shortstop in its 111-year history.
Manager Manny Acta was happy the deal was finalized.
“You get all the bickering aside, all the clouds over the kid’s head and the organization,” Acta said.
Acta also liked the message it sent in the clubhouse.
“It’s not only about a guy having a big year, but making sure the guys know that the organization is thinking about holding on to our good players,” Acta said.
Asked if he tried to lock up Cabrera with a longer deal, General Manager Chris Antonetti said, “It was a long process with a lot of different ideas exchanged. We considered a variety of different structures and proposals.”
Antonetti said Cabrera showed in the past two years he could be the long-sought shortstop to replace Omar Vizquel, who last played for the Indians in 2004 and will be with the Toronto Blue Jays today for the 2012 opener at Progressive Field.
“He’s regarded as one of the most dynamic shortstops in baseball on both sides of the ball,” Antonetti said of Cabrera.
Both Antonetti and Acta said Cabrera played 151 games last season with injuries that the media was not aware of.
“He played through some bumps and bruises that we kept away from you guys,” Acta said. “His teammates appreciate that. When you can go out and play through pain, that’s a good way to lead.”
Starting pitcher Justin Masterson appreciates Cabrera.
“Sometimes it’s fun just sitting on the bench watching him,” Masterson said. “Like ‘What’s he going to do today that’s going to surprise us?’ He’s such a great hitter, too. He has a great approach, hits from both sides and brings a little bit of everything. If only he was really, really fast, he’d be one of the best players ever.”
Center fielder Grady Sizemore (lower back surgery on March 1) was placed on the 60-day disabled list. Antonetti said the best-case scenario was for Sizemore to rejoin the team on June 3.
“He’s still working on stability and mobility,” Antonetti said. “He has not initiated any baseball activities, but in a couple weeks he’ll start to do that. Then he’ll have to have his spring training and build up his volume.”
The Indians purchased the contracts of infielder Jose Lopez and right-hander Dan Wheeler from Triple-A Columbus and added them to the big-league roster. Outfielder Thomas Neal was designated for assignment. Left-hander David Huff (strained right hamstring) was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30. Assigned to Columbus were right-hander Jeremy Accardo, catcher Matt Pagnozzi, infielder Gregorio Petit and outfielder Ryan Spilborghs. Outfielder Felix Pie was released.
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