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Everth gets right from right side

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SAN DIEGO -- Left-handed pitchers used to give Everth Cabrera fits. The Padres shortstop struggled mightily against southpaws despite being a switch-hitter, and it ate away at his confidence last season.

Hit couldn't pull the ball effectively. He couldn't recognize pitches. In short, nothing went right from the right.

Frustration didn't help results, which were dreadful by the end of the season. Cabrera hit .195 from the right side in 2012, with just five extra-base hits and 36 strikeouts.

It was a strike against someone who hates riding pine, a reason for manager Bud Black to leave him out of the lineup.

Cabrera wanted to play all 162 games, so he devoted an offseason to fixing the problem. He worked incessantly from the right side, at a Los Angeles performance center and in hitting coach Phil Plantier's backyard.

During that time, Cabrera's weakness became a strength. He's hitting .333 from the right side this season, including a 2-for-4 performance in Friday night's 7-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"For the first time in a while, I feel confident stepping to the plate as a righty," Cabrera said. "I'm seeing the ball so much better from that side. I can recognize pitches so much better, and it helps everything I do.

"I have a shorter swing than I used to, but it's my mindset more than anything. My goal is to hit it up the middle or slap it the other way. That's my focus, and it's allowed me to use the whole field and find holes in the defense."

Black believes pitch recognition was key to this renaissance.

"The breaking ball gave Everth quite a bit of trouble his first couple of years, especially from the right side," he said. "He's cleaned that up, and he's learned the importance of putting the ball in play. He's made big strides, and it's good to see his hard work paying off."

It's put Cabrera in all 30 games this season, leaving him in line to achieve an ultimate goal.

"I want to play 162 games," Cabrera said. "I want to be there for my team every single day, and the only way I can do that is to hit well from both sides of the plate."

Scott Bair is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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