Cabrera proving to be a terror on basepaths

Cabrera proving to be a terror on basepaths

Cabrera proving to be a terror on basepaths
SAN DIEGO -- Padres infielder Everth Cabrera is 17-for-17 in stolen-base attempt, the longest streak to start a season in team history.

Cabrera is tied with Cameron Maybin for the team lead as the Padres have tallied the second-most steals in the Major Leagues with 80. All told in 2012, Cabrera is 32-for-32, as he was perfect with Triple-A Tucson prior to his May 17 callup to the big leagues.

Cabrera's season will likely be remembered most for that ninth-inning, game-tying steal of home against the Dodgers on Saturday.

Padres' first-base coach Dave Roberts, a man who knows a thing or two about memorable stolen bases, said that play -- particularly Cabrera's willingness to make it -- sums up everything that makes the 25-year-old such an accomplished thief.

"He's fearless," Roberts said. "When baserunners are aggressive and fearless, they let their abilities and instincts take over. When people are tentative, they don't get as good of jumps because they're afraid to make a mistake."

But while Cabrera's jump to the plate may have seemed a courageous snap decision, it was not merely the product of a willingness to take chances. Cabrera had been on third for 21 pitches prior to his dash, moments spent studying Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, seeking an opening, and calculating when to take his shot. For Roberts, that studious approach to the basepaths is another crucial component of his pupil's success.

"We do a lot of studying, and he's a student of the game," Roberts said. "With the steal of home, he was really in tune with the field awareness, what was going on. I think a lot of times that leads to his success rate."

Because of his acumen, Roberts says Cabrera has the green light to go when he sees his chance about "95 percent" of the time. The lone exceptions are rare moments when the Padres' coaching staff decides to give a certain batter a pitch or two to hit, or when defensive alignment dictates he hold.

Certainly, Cabrera's natural speed and trustworthy instincts have earned him that freedom on the basepaths. But he says work behind the scenes has also been important to his recent run.

"I'm happy about it because I've been working for this moment last year and in Spring Training," Cabrera said. "Studying and thinking about the pitcher and what they do when they go to home plate, when they pick their foot up, when they go to first. I think that's partly why [I've been so successful]."