12/16/10 6:22 PM EST
Melky warm to idea of playing in chilly KC
Cabrera passes physical, joins strong-armed Royals outfield
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
"It's cold," he said with a smile.
Even so, Cabrera seemed happy with his surroundings as he settled into the Royals' nearly-empty clubhouse. The only action was clubhouse attendant Tom Walsh rubbing mud on baseballs that will be used in games next April -- the same balls that Cabrera plans to be spraying all over Kauffman Stadium.
Cabrera braved the Kansas City weather because he needed to have a physical examination, the last step to becoming the Royals' new center fielder. He passed all the tests, so it's game on.
He'll join another newcomer, right fielder Jeff Francoeur, and left fielder Alex Gordon in an outfield that should give opposing runners pause before trying to stretch singles into doubles or doubles into triples.
Cabrera has had 46 outfield assists in his career, including 16 for the Yankees in 2007. Francoeur has had 81 in his career, also covering six years. Gordon, playing outfield for the first time last season, notched two assists in 58 games and has a strong arm from his third-base days.
A switch-hitter, Cabrera batted eighth most often last season with the Braves, but prefers the middle of the lineup, and that's where manager Ned Yost has indicated he'll be -- every day. The chance to be an everyday player was a big reason for his signing with the Royals.
Cabrera, let go by Atlanta, says he's especially grateful for the recommendations on his behalf by Braves bench coach Chino Cadahia and Royals special assistant Rene Francisco. Cadahia gave high grades on Cabrera to Royals general manager Dayton Moore, and Francisco followed up with a personal scouting mission to watch him work out.
"They were key to having the Royals sign me," Cabrera said.
Cabrera said he's looking forward to joining old friends like Wilson Betemit, Yuniesky Betancourt, Robinson Tejeda and Gregor Blanco in Spring Training. It'll be warm in Surprise, Ariz.
Then Cabrera headed for the Kansas City airport and a flight back to Miami.
He wondered about the KC weather.
"In July or August, it's nice?" he asked.
Well, it'll be warmer -- a lot warmer, Kansas Citians will attest -- at that time of year. He'll think he's back in the Dominican.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.