Cabrera confident in cast around him

Cabrera confident in cast around him

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The view from Orlando Cabrera's spot at shortstop is a sight to behold.

In front of him, he sees his future with the White Sox, a cast of potential good friends in the clubhouse and a new start in a city he says he'll grow to love.

Behind him, is his manager, Ozzie Guillen, a Venezuelan baseball hero who will support him as long as he lives up to his part of the deal in Chicago by playing hard every day.

To his right is young third baseman Josh Fields or Joe Crede, a proven veteran coming off back surgery. To his immediate left? Well, that's the tricky part.

Cabrera might say it's the best part. Because no matter who starts for the White Sox at second base come Opening Day, be it Juan Uribe, Alexei Ramirez or Danny Richar, Cabrera believes Chicago's middle infield will be just fine.

In fact, he says it's going to be good, really good.

"If you look over there, I think we have a good chance to do something," Cabrera said. "We have a lot of players who can play, with a lot of ability. Any one of those guys can do it. Richar is a good player, Uribe is a veteran. Ramirez has a lot of ability. I don't see it as a problem. It's an advantage."

The decision will rest on the evaluations of Guillen and his staff. As of last week, the manager did not know who will win the spot. Uribe, last year's shortstop, is not a lock for the position. He could play third at times but the regular utility spot belongs to Pablo Ozuna.

"It's a great competition. Whoever gets the job done will play every day," Guillen said. "I know Uribe doesn't want to be in that position but he has to battle and try to be the everyday second baseman."

Ask Uribe about the competition for second base and he responds like the veteran he is. He's cordial, professional and says all the right things. The first thing he does is give thanks to God for allowing him to be with the White Sox. Then he explains his status, fuzzy as it might be.

"I feel good because I feel healthy," Uribe said. "I don't feel bad [about the competition]. It's important that I get to play because I'm happy when I'm playing, but they are treating me great here. They are fair. Those other guys are great players, great guys. I think all of us are ready to do the job."

Uribe's biggest competition could come from Richar. Last year, Richar hit .230 with six home runs in 56 games for the big league club but he has been slowed recently with back problems. Arriving late because of visa problems did not help his case. Ramirez, who came from Cuba, has also opened a few eyes in camp with his natural ability, but his inexperience against Major League-caliber pitchers and defensive footwork along with positioning at second base could pose a problem, at least initially.

It might not.

"I like him. He's a good offensive shortstop and he has a chance to be a pretty good player," Guillen said of Ramirez. "We have to sit and wait and see how he adjusts. I don't see him having any problems at all playing in the big leagues. The question is if he can play another position. He is not going to play shortstop this year for the White Sox and that's why he has to find another position."

For his part, Ramirez says the move from shortstop to second base is not a big deal because he played multiple positions in Cuba.

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Baseball is baseball, Ramirez says.

"This is a dream to be here," he said. "I come from Cuba, a place far away and to be here now is tremendous. I like defense. I'm just waiting for the opportunity. I'll go wherever they want me. I just want to help the team. I don't care where they put me."

Richar's take on the battle for second base is that it is simply a professional competition among friends. The trio shares tips, with Uribe doing most of the talking, Richar said. It's not uncommon to see Richar tagging along with Uribe around the clubhouse, playing dominoes, cards or simply goofing around.

"I'm working hard and we'll see what happens," Richar said. "I just have to keep showing up and playing 100 percent every day. We all have a great relationship. This is baseball and we all want to play but only one can. It's business. We know that."

Uribe has nothing but praise for Cabrera, the man who basically took his spot and left him looking for another.

Cabrera is keeping an eye on the competition to his left but remains focused on moving forward. The goal is the playoffs, a World Series title and staying healthy all season.

"Everybody gets along and respects each other and I like that," Cabrera said. "There is no division in here. Everybody is a professional and that allows you to play at your level and play the game. We want to play well and get in the win column. That's all that matters to us in here."

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.