Asdrúbal Cabrera, a World Series champion with Nationals, gets ovation in D.C.

Maybe the Nationals won’t win the 2019 World Series. And Cabrera definitely doesn’t get a standing ovation on Thursday evening in Nationals Park and waves in his Arizona Diamondbacks uniform in front of the visitors’ shelter. General Manager Mike Rizzo once described a title year as a jenga tower: take one piece out and the whole thing falls apart. However, Cabrera was more than a tiny block for the club who defeated the Houston Astros in Game 7 17 months ago. He was the first second baseman for the entire stretch run.

How did this happen? He joined the Nationals in San Francisco in August 2019, was moonlit on first base and got hot on the plate. Eventually, manager Dave Martinez decided that Cabrera was a better everyday option than second baseman Brian Dozier, who signed a $ 9 million one-year deal last winter. Kendrick returned. Zimmerman too. Cabrera kept hitting and playing.

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“Texas gave me a release earlier this year and I thought it was for me,” said Cabrera on Thursday afternoon before beating the Nationals 6-0 in an 11-6 win. “As soon as the Washington Nationals called me, it was really good for me. I said to my family, “It will probably be my last three months. I’ll just have fun here and see what will happen. ‘

“And we made it to the World Series and won the World Series. So I’ll never forget this year. “

His first hours after arriving in San Francisco weren’t included in Thursday night’s tribute video. It was instead filled with footage from his first stint with the team (49 games in 2014), timely playoff hits in 2019, and the World Series parade. But his second term began in a cramped visitor clubhouse in Oracle Park. He leaned back in a chair and chatted with the then basic trainer Tim Bogar. Cabrera had a first baseman glove on his lap.

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About a week earlier, he thought his career was over. He was able to hang it up in his name with more than 6,000 record appearances. But the Nationals offered a chance to move on on one condition: he had to learn the first base.

“I was thinking of going home,” Cabrera said of how he felt before the Nationals contacted him. “But the way I finished this year with really good numbers helped me hold my head up and say that I have more inside of me.”

In January 2020, he signed a $ 2.5 million one-year deal with the Nationals. And like in 2019, he had more bats than expected. Carter Kieboom’s shaky season resulted in regular third base starts for Cabrera. But in the past off-season, when seasoned bankers were still needed, the Nationals looked elsewhere.

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You have signed Josh Harrison again for a year. You also signed Zimmerman into a one-year contract. Cabrera, aiming for a major league contract, ended up with the Diamondbacks for a season and $ 1.75 million. In the meantime, the Nationals filled out their list with utility companies like Hernán Pérez and Jordy Mercer (also because Kieboom had problems again this spring and is now at the alternative location in Fredericksburg). Cabrera’s bat would fit nicely, maybe instead of Pérez or Mercer. But in hindsight, that’s the talking.

“I’ve been waiting for this – I wouldn’t lie,” said the 35-year-old after receiving no interest from the Nationals in preparing for spring training. “But they never called me.”

That put Cabrera in a group with those who don’t get an ovation with the Nationals after the World Series. The pandemic robbed the 2020 team of the 2019 championship designation. Washington started last season with 19 players from the championship list. During that streak against the Diamondbacks, that number has dropped to 12.

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Gerardo Parra and Javy Guerra are at the alternative location. Cabrera, Anthony Rendon, Sean Doolittle, Adam Eaton, and Kurt Suzuki are on other teams. Dozier and Kendrick withdrew. Starter Aníbal Sánchez is looking for a chance and even got a bit of interest from the Nationals this month. In the Mexican league, 44-year-old Fernando Rodney still holds a baseball.

But every year it gets harder to bring them all back together. Therefore, Cabrera was cheered on while passing through.