07/08/06 1:50 PM EST
Cabrera says Derby is about having fun
Marlins slugger excited to give fans a power show in Pittsburgh
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
But the Marlins' 23-year-old sensation isn't making any bold predictions. However, he's making a modest forecast.
"I guarantee one [homer]," Cabrera said jokingly.
A late addition to the event, Cabrera will be making his first appearance in the CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby on Monday at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Already a three-time All-Star and winner of a World Series championship ring, Cabrera has the ability to put on an impressive show in the Derby.
One of the best pure hitters in the league, Cabrera has long been compared to the likes of Albert Pujols. The Marlins third baseman has the potential to hit .340, and twice already he has topped 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in a season.
In the past two years, he strung together back-to-back 33-home run seasons. In fact, the Venezuela native is the youngest player in baseball history to post successive 30-home run seasons.
Marlins manager Joe Girardi believes Cabrera can increase his home run totals, but instead he focuses on being a complete hitter.
With power to all fields, Cabrera remains a disciplined hitter who uses daily batting practice to spray the ball to right and center fields. While he has the power to go deep to all fields, he has immense power pulling the ball on pitches thrown inside.
"He's still going to hit 30 home runs a year," Girardi said. "I think he can hit more home runs, but I think his average would suffer a bit."
For the Derby, Cabrera has yet to decide who will pitch to him. He is taking a carefree approach, stressing he will be out there having fun.
"I'm excited," he said. "There are a lot of big names out there."
What Cabrera is guarding against is altering his swing in hopes of swatting mammoth shots in PNC Park.
A year ago, Cabrera was a vocal supporter for another Venezuelan native, Bobby Abreu of the Phillies. On the field during the Derby, Cabrera wrapped himself in the Venezuelan flag and constantly talked up Abreu.
Abreu won the 2005 derby in record-setting fashion.
Like Abreu, Cabrera is a fan-favorite in Venezuela. He represented his native country in the World Baseball Classic.
"I think there are going to be a lot of happy people in Venezuela," Cabrera said. "When Bobby Abreu went to the finals last year, everyone was happy."
While Abreu was a star in the 2005 Derby, his home run totals dropped in the second half. After belting 18 at the break, he added eight the rest of the way.
"I'm just there to have fun," Cabrera said. "It's about hitting home runs for the fans. People are happy when they see the ball go more than 400 feet. I'm not going to be serious. I'm going to have fun and that's it. It's not going to mess up my swing."
Girardi says Cabrera is about as disciplined a hitter as there is around, and the Derby will be a way to showcase his talents.
"He's so disciplined with his approach in [batting practice], hitting the ball the other way," Girardi said. "It changes his approach a little bit, but it's just for one day."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.