Dragons release Cabrera in first fallout from brawl
Comment: What do you think of Angel Cabrera being released by the Dragons?
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By Marc Katz
Monday, July 28, 2008
DAYTON — While the defining moment for most will be Thursday's bench-clearing brawl with the Peoria Chiefs, Dayton Dragons manager Donnie Scott said it was just one of several incidents that led to the release of second baseman Angel Cabrera this morning.
"This has been an on-going issue," said Scott, who called Cabrera to Fifth Third Field before noon to give him the news. "He has some (playing) ability, but we just can't tolerate some of his on-field actions. He's been in here four times this year and we've talked to him about it and he hangs his head and he says he understands, then he goes out and does it again."
Earlier this season, Scott said, Cabrera elbowed the Chiefs first baseman twice in Peoria. He also acted a little too joyously when he hit a walk-off homer to win Wednesday's game against the Chiefs, then reacted angrily when the Chiefs hit him in the first inning of Thursday's game.
When Cabrera reacted to that by sliding into second spikes high to break up a double play, tempers began to get out of control.
Peoria players and coaches were yelling at Cabrera and others on the Dayton bench, and when Scott began to complain, Peoria interim manager Carmello Martinez confronted Scott. Their argument erupted into a bench-clearing brawl and Peoria pitcher Julio Castillo came off the mound and tried to hit Cabrera with the baseball.
He missed, and the ball struck a fan.
Both teams are awaiting multiple suspensions that should begin sometime this week. Cabrera's place on the roster will be taken by Jake Kahaulelio, who was with the Dragons briefly earlier this season and was hitting .262 with Sarasota in the Florida State League.
"The only thing I know to do is play baseball," said the 22-year-old Cabrera while packing his equipment. "I've been playing baseball since I was 5 years old. The first time I threw a ball, it came naturally.
"I play this game 100 percent. If there's a team looking for a guy who plays 100 percent, I'm that guy."
Maybe, but Scott insists there is a way to play the game hard and tough, and a way not to play it.
"For the kid, he was just playing hard, but there's a difference," Scott said. "Angel has some issues he has to figure out. There's some good in that kid. There are some things you just can't do.
"I know they see all that stuff on television, but Angel hit his third homer the other day, and he runs the bases to show up the other team. I didn't see him go spikes high into the shortstop, but I saw the pictures. You can't do that."
Cabrera grew up in New York City and played in junior college in Oklahoma. He hit .293 with the rookie GCL Reds in 2006 after being selected in the 40th round of the '05 draft, and hit .291 with the rookie Billings team last season.
A reserve most of the first half of this season, Cabrera has been a regular most of the second half, and responded by raising his batting average to .263, except Scott noticed he'd do little things that would annoy the other teams.
Besides the elbow incidents in Peoria, he also elbowed the pitcher covering a bunt. There was the excessive home run trot, acting in anger when hit with a pitch and rolling into the shortstop spikes high.
Sunday night, following an at-bat, Cabrera threw his helmet on the floor of the Dayton dugout. It bounced and hit pitching coach Doug Bair in the leg.
After the game, Scott said he was thinking of benching Cabrera. The more he thought about it, he didn't even want him on the team. He called Reds director of development Terry Reynolds and told him so.
"He said he'd think about it," Scott said. "He called (Monday) morning and said to do it."
There appeared to be no acrimony.
"We were trying to help this kid with his conduct out there," Scott said. "It didn't work out. He's not a bad kid, but he needs to channel his aggression in a positive manner. It's not showmanship. It's sportsmanship."
Cabrera said he was first going to go home to New York, then look for another playing job.
"I don't think I play with a bad attitude," Cabrera said. "I play with a lot of heart. It looks like I play and I'm mean out there. The Reds treated me good since I've been a part of them. I can't be upset."
Upset or not, he's gone.