WASHINGTON -- Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera's 44 steals led the National League in 2012. Last season, he was pacing the NL in steals (37) when he was suspended for the final 50 games of the season.
So far this season, Cabrera has been grounded, despite leading the team with 30 hits and a .300 batting average. Going into Saturday's game against the Nationals, he had attempted five stolen bases and had two successful attempts.
So what gives?
Cabrera tweaked his right knee in an April 14 game against the Rockies, when he robbed Troy Tulowitzki of a hit with a leaping grab. He injured the knee when he quickly got to his feet, planted and tried to double a runner off first base.
He missed one game before returning on April 16, attempting one steal since then, an attempt that was unsuccessful.
"His knee has been a little bit of a factor," said Padres manager Bud Black. "Some of it has been game situations, too."
Black has also noticed that opposing pitchers have been paying more attention to Cabrera -- just not in terms of throwing over to first base a lot, but by other means.
"A lot of it has been opposing pitchers really making a statement, being quick to the plate," Black said.
Cabrera is off to a quick start this season. He got out of the gate quickly in 2013, too, with 27 hits in April on his way to being named to the NL All-Star team. He still has five games to increase his hit total in '14 -- and possibly to add to his stolen bases.
"Last year sort of put him on the map, as far as recognition," Black said. "He's off to a nice start this year. I think it takes time for most players to get national recognition. I think he's started to get that."