Fortune favors brave: Oswaldo Cabrera earns unlikely start, hammers first Yankees HR in 2024

Oswaldo Cabrera hits the first homer for the Yankees in 2024 against the Astros on March 28, 2024, at Minute Maid Park.

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The New York Yankees’ Opening Day lineup might have looked quite different if Jon Berti hadn’t encountered a late arrival. However, destiny favored Oswaldo Cabrera and he made the best of it by hammering the Yankees’ first home run of 2024 ensuring their 5-4 win over the Astros.

Newly acquired from the Miami Marlins to solidify the infield, Berti’s journey to the team hotel wasn’t completed until the early hours of Thursday morning, around 2 a.m., following the Wednesday afternoon trade. Given Berti’s late arrival and the need to adjust to his new surroundings, manager Aaron Boone opted to give him time to acclimate. This decision, born out of necessity, turned out to be a pivotal turning point in the Yankees’ thrilling victory.

Stepping up in Berti’s place at third base against Astros lefty Framber Valdez, Oswaldo Cabrera made a significant impact on the game’s outcome. He reached base with a timely single and scored in the fifth inning. But his most powerful impact came when Oswaldo Cabrera delivered a game-tying home run off reliever Rafael Montero in the sixth. His heroics proved to be the catalyst for the Yankees’ dramatic 5-4 comeback win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Oswaldo Cabrera gains Boone’s trust as a perfect fit to fill LeMahieu’s shoes

Yankees manager Aaron Boone couldn’t contain his excitement over Oswaldo Cabrera’s remarkable performance on Opening Day. He lauded the utility star’s unwavering dedication throughout spring training, emphasizing how the young player’s relentless hard work had paid off in a resounding way.

“Super fired up for Oswaldo because he’s been working his tail off to get it going here these last few weeks of spring and he has,” the skipper claimed.

Oswaldo Cabrera had the unexpected opportunity to shine at third base due to an injury to veteran infielder DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu’s absence, with no clear timetable for his return, threw a wrench into the Yankees’ infield plans. In the interim, the team is looking to a combination of Oswaldo Cabrera and the newly acquired Berti to bridge the gap. The Yankees’ utility player wasted no time to prove his mettle on Thursday.

Oswaldo Cabrera celebrates after hitting the first homer for the Yankees in 2024 against the Astros on March 28, 2024, at Minute Maid Park.

A switch-hitter by nature, Oswaldo Cabrera typically bats left-handed against southpaws like Opening Day starter Framber Valdez. However, Boone opted to keep him in the lineup, presenting him with the challenge of batting right-handed against the formidable lefty.

While his first at-bat against Valdez resulted in a strikeout, Oswaldo Cabrera displayed remarkable resilience. In the fifth inning, he bounced back with a clutch infield single up the middle, igniting a three-run rally that brought the Yankees back into the thick of the contest.

Then, in the sixth inning, Oswaldo Cabrera truly solidified his hero status. He connected on a towering home run off a tricky inside slider thrown by reliever Rafael Montero, knotting the score and sending a jolt of excitement through the Yankees dugout. This impactful performance showcased his well-rounded skillset, including Oswaldo Cabrera’s ability to adjust at the plate and hit from both sides with authority.

Oswaldo Cabrera of the New York Yankees is taking position during a game in 2023.

The blast a reminder of big potential

Oswaldo Cabrera’s clutch home run in the Yankees‘ Opening Day triumph evoked memories of his late-season surge in 2022, when he first burst onto the major league scene. However, this stands in stark contrast to his struggles throughout the 2023 campaign.

However, Oswaldo Cabrera insists that his recent success is rooted in a fundamental change in approach. He has shifted his focus away from chasing “launch angle” and aiming for home runs, instead prioritizing consistent, quality contact with the ball. He recognizes that the Yankees’ formidable lineup boasts an abundance of power hitters, and his role is to contribute by putting the ball in play and forcing the defense to make plays.

This newfound approach seems to be yielding dividends, as evidenced by his strong finish to spring training despite an initially challenging start offensively. However, the Yankees’ acquisition of Jon Berti on Wednesday adds another layer to the competition for playing time at third base, especially with DJ LeMahieu sidelined by injury. Berti could potentially see the starting nod over Oswaldo Cabrera.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding his playing time, Oswaldo Cabrera remains laser-focused on the bigger picture. While acknowledging the thrill of his home run, he emphasizes the importance of swiftly moving on and preparing for the next game. He is pleased with his recent performance, but his primary concern is the Yankees securing a victory on Friday. This level of maturity and dedication bodes well for Oswaldo Cabrera as he aims to solidify his place on the Yankees’ roster.

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