I am missing Nomar Garciaparra somewhat less now …
Because new Red Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera is turning out to be just the sort of guy I want on my team. Cabrera seems to understand that "team" and "player" are not mutually exclusive terms.
On Wednesday, Cabrera arrived back in Boston from his native Colombia, where his wife underwent surgery of an undisclosed nature. As much as he was likely loathe to leave her, Cabrera knew he had a job to do - to contribute to his team's playoff chances in the thick of a pennant race.
Cabrera said of his departure from his wife's side: "I was thinking about taking another day because my wife asked me to stay another day. I kept saying, 'I got to go. I got to go.'"
He also said he slept for most of the six-hour flight to Boston and once he landed, he called up Boston manager Terry Francona to announce that he would play that night, against the Baltimore Orioles, a team that the Red Sox always seem to have trouble with.
"[I] left a voice mail saying I was here and that I wanted to play," Cabrera said.
No-one would have blamed Cabrera for bowing out another day to be with his sick wife. Indeed, it would have been admirable for him to have stayed. But, on the other hand, it's just as equally admirable that he came back for his team.
And his presence proved to be of vital importance: He knocked in a last-at-bat home run to give Boston a meaningful win.
Amazingly, Cabrera seems to work well when rushed and with little rest. In his debut with the Red Sox, in a game against Minnesota in early August, he had just arrived from the Expos organization a couple of hours before game-time, took about ten swings in the batting cage and obviously didn't manage more than cursory small talk with his new team-mates. Yet, at his first at-bat, he clocked a home run. Welcome to Boston!, Red Sox Nation said as one.
So did I. A good defenseman who’s proven that he is capable of handling a hot bat and who has a work ethic like Cal Ripken. That’s Orlando Cabrera.