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Cabrera finds home atop Padres' lineup

Cabrera finds home atop Padres' lineup

CHICAGO -- After hitting throughout the San Diego order in 115 games last year, shortstop Everth Cabrera has settled nicely into the Padres' leadoff role.

Cabrera has hit leadoff in 19 of San Diego's first 28 games. He's hit .270 with two doubles, two triples, a home run, two RBIs, four stolen bases and 10 runs out of that spot. He's hitting .233 in eight games in the No. 2 spot entering Thursday's series finale against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, where he again hit second.

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"He's extremely motivated to lead off and hit at the top of the order," manager Bud Black said. "He's got a lot of self-confidence in his game, which is great."

Cabrera has been a force at the top of the order in the first three games against the Cubs. He went 3-for-4 with a walk and two runs Monday and 1-for-4 with two runs Tuesday.

When Cabrera hits leadoff, he has a .379 on-base percentage and a .771 OPS. When hitting second, his on-base percentage drops to .303 and his OPS to .670 OPS. Entering Thursday, his 12 walks are tied for second in the National League and tied for fourth in the Majors.

"He also knows that for him to hit at the top of the order, he has to get on base and be productive," Black said. "With the pitcher hitting ninth, if we have to bunt to move the eighth-place hitter along, Cabrera has to be a run producer. What we really like, and we've seen it really come on since Spring Training, is his at-bats as far as keeping the ball on the ground, fighting with two strikes, not taking big swings as he gets behind in the count, putting the ball in play, making the defense work."

"We need him on base, so the on-base percentage is critical."

& This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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