Yankees manager hints at Oswaldo Cabrera moving to a new unorthodox approach

Oswaldo Cabrera arrives at Yankees' spring training facility in Tampa on February 20, 2024.
Sara Molnick
Saturday February 24, 2024

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Oswaldo Cabrera, who is seeking to improve upon a challenging sophomore season with the Yankees, is exploring a strategic adjustment to his batting stance. While not entirely abandoning switch-hitting, the versatile utility player plans to take some at-bats against left-handed pitchers from the left side of the plate.

This experimentation signifies a proactive approach to Oswaldo Cabrera’s development. He aims to potentially expand his offensive repertoire and potentially increase his effectiveness against certain pitchers.

Boone shapes transformed identity for Oswaldo Cabrera

Manager Aaron Boone, speaking at Yankees camp in Tampa on Friday, confirmed that the coaching staff will remain actively involved in Oswaldo Cabrera’s development throughout the season. He indicated that they will maintain open communication and strategize alongside Oswaldo Cabrera to refine his approach and maximize his potential.

Boone mentioned that they would communicate with Oswaldo Cabrera before each series to assess the left-handed pitchers they feel comfortable with him facing as a left-handed hitter and those they believe he should switch to the right side against. He added that they would be discerning in their approach.

“We’ll get with him really every series and determine who are the lefties that we’re good with him going left-on-left, who we think this is a guy that if you’re facing him, you’d go to the right side,” the Yankees manager said. “We’ll be selective about it.”

Oswaldo Cabrera, a versatile utility player for the New York Yankees, is entering the 2024 season with a renewed focus on improving his offensive output. He recently revealed a strategic adjustment to his batting stance, aiming to potentially enhance his performance against specific pitchers.

Charles Wenzelberg / NYP

While Oswaldo Cabrera remains a switch-hitter, he intends to primarily hit left-handed against left-handed pitchers. This approach, which he experimented with during the latter part of the 2022 season and throughout winter ball in Venezuela, stems from his confidence and comfort in hitting from the left side.

Oswaldo Cabrera’s decision is not necessarily driven by any perceived weaknesses as a right-handed hitter, but rather a proactive effort to expand his offensive capabilities. It’s important to note that this approach is still under development, and its effectiveness remains to be seen throughout the upcoming season.

Looking back at the 2022 season, Oswaldo Cabrera’s performance was a tale of two halves. He showcased flashes of brilliance towards the end, batting .265 with six home runs and a .803 OPS in his final 38 games. This display of offensive potential, coupled with his defensive versatility, offered promising glimpses of his future contributions.

However, the majority of the season presented challenges for Oswaldo Cabrera. Given ample opportunities to solidify the starting left field position, his defensive struggles and a .211 batting average with a .574 OPS across 115 games raised concerns. It’s worth noting that the Yankees’ frequent outfield injuries during that period likely played a role in his extended playing time.

With spring training underway and the season approaching, Oswaldo Cabrera’s willingness to experiment with his batting approach demonstrates his commitment to improvement. The Yankees’ coaching staff will play a crucial role in supporting him throughout this process, providing guidance and feedback as he refines his technique and seeks to solidify his place on the team.

Boone mentioned that Oswaldo Cabrera’s preference and focus on hitting from the left side are evident, and they reached a compromise to support his decision. While acknowledging the player’s capability to handle right-handed pitching, Boone also highlighted the potential challenges in certain left-on-left matchups. This approach will be their current strategy, with room for adjustments if necessary as the season progresses.

Oswaldo Cabrera for utility duty as Yankees bench taking shape

Oswaldo Cabrera of the Yankees hit a home run against the Dodgers in LA on June 3, 2023, after his recall from AAA.

With Isiah Kiner-Falefa no longer on the roster, Oswaldo Cabrera is poised to assume the super-utility role on the New York Yankees’ bench. As spring training progresses, a clearer picture of the team’s bench composition is emerging.

Currently, Oswaldo Cabrera is projected to join outfielder Trent Grisham, top prospect Oswald Peraza, and either Jose Trevino or Austin Wells (depending on who starts at catcher) on the Opening Day roster. However, it’s important to note that this is not yet set in stone.

Manager Aaron Boone emphasized that the Yankees are still evaluating their options and assessing depth across various positions. This includes closely monitoring the performances of non-roster invitees participating in spring training, who could potentially impact the final bench decisions.

Therefore, while Oswaldo Cabrera’s role as a utility player appears likely, the exact makeup of the Yankees’ bench remains fluid and subject to change based on ongoing evaluations and potential developments throughout spring training.

Boone stated that there is still ample time for the situation to develop and become clear. He expressed confidence in the team’s array of strong options, suggesting that they have the potential to impress and make an impact.

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