Cabrera's potential excites Padres

Cabrera's potential excites Padres

SAN DIEGO -- If you're under the impression the Padres will try to "hide" rookie shortstop Everth Cabrera on the 25-man roster this season, you couldn't be more wrong.

Sure, the 22-year-old Cabrera hasn't played a single inning above the Class A level, but the Rule 5 pickup from the Rockies in December won't merely be a pinch-runner or a fill-in during the dog days of summer.

Manager Bud Black has said Cabrera will play, and it will likely happen sooner than later, possibly as early as Wednesday's game against the Dodgers at PETCO Park.

"He's going to play. I think we'll use him more than we did [2008 Rule 5 infielder] Callix [Crabbe]. He'll start one of these games [against the Dodgers]," Black said.

The Padres like Cabrera's upside, his speed and defensive potential. He showed both in Spring Training, stealing nine bases. He also made eight errors, some on routine plays, though the consensus from the staff was he played better as the spring wore on.

Remember, Cabrera had 73 stolen bases last season, the most among any player at any professional level.

Cabrera got off to a slow start offensively but finished hitting .258 in 62 at-bats. Luis Rodriguez is the starter at shortstop, but the Padres want to see if Cabrera can handle playing at this level.

He could be the shortstop of the future for the team, though the Padres won't know this unless he plays, and plays on a semi-regular basis. The team will still use him to pinch-run and on double switches, though Black said it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to play once a week.

"I like what I see a lot. He played with energy, he's got some speed which is something we haven't had in a long time," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said during Spring Training. "I think he has probably exceeded my expectations.

"He can take a base, an extra base, looks like he has some good instincts. We knew the bat would take some time to come. But he takes good swings and doesn't swing at bad pitches. He's more of a physical player than I thought. He has got some strength. He kind of reminds me of a young Quilvio Veras."

Pitching matchup
SD: RHP Walter Silva (0-0, -.-- ERA)
When Spring Training started in February, Silva was back in Mazatlan, Mexico, after helping that Winter League team to the Caribbean World Series in Mexicali. That's where the Padres spotted him. Silva came highly recommended from Mazatlan teammates Adrian and Edgar Gonzalez. Silva was signed two weeks after camp started and then missed time with an ankle sprain. He's still building his endurance, so don't expect the 32-year-old to work past six or so innings in his Major League debut. Silva offers a nice cutter and has a history of good command. It will be interesting to see how he fares moving forward.

LAD: RHP Chad Billingsley (16-10, 3.14 ERA in 2008)
First, the playoff debacle in Philly. Then the broken leg he suffered in the winter in an icy slip-and-fall. Two weeks before the season started, he strained a groin muscle. Billingsley has allowed too many walks and home runs this spring, but he didn't impress manager Joe Torre last spring and then went out and won 16 games. He might have gotten a little caught up in the moment of the playoffs, but he's a competitor and still could be the club's biggest winner this year.

Two Padres got their first starts of the season on Tuesday: catcher Nick Hundley and center fielder Scott Hairston. ... Four Padres made their San Diego debut on Monday: David Eckstein, Ed Mujica, Luke Gregerson and Henry Blanco. ... The Padres will open Citi Field in New York on Monday. Silva, who makes his Major League debut Wednesday, will get the start. ... Since 2006, Major League batters are hitting just .204 off Chris Young. That's the lowest average in the Major Leagues. Jake Peavy (.224) ranks third. ... Adrian Gonzalez needs three home runs to reach 100 for his career. ... In case you're wondering, Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum of the Giants starts against the Padres on Sunday at PETCO Park.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• 4 San Diego

On radio
• XPRS 1090, XEMO 860 (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Padres (Kevin Correia, 0-0, -.--) vs. Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 0-0, -.--), 12:35 p.m. PT
• Friday: Padres (Shawn Hill, 0-0, -.--) vs. Giants (Barry Zito, 0-0, -.--), 7:05 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Padres (TBD) vs. Giants (Jonathan Sanchez, 0-0, -.--), 7:05 p.m. PT

Corey Brock is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.