Oswaldo Cabrera makes candid introspection, commits to mindset shakeup


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Oswaldo Cabrera is widely recognized as one of baseball’s brightest personalities, renowned for his genuine kindness and unwavering positivity. Even though his vibrant demeanor couldn’t shield him from a difficult 2023 season, those familiar with the Venezuelan infielder/outfielder can attest to his infectious optimism. While some might recall the uplifting energy Luke Voit brought to the Yankees, Oswaldo Cabrera’s positive spirit arguably stands on an even higher level.

On his arrival in Tampa for spring training, Oswaldo Cabrera made a candid self-reflection on his performance in 2023 and vowed to level up.

“I think that was my problem last year; I’m so optimistic, so in my mind, it’s like, ‘I’m OK, I’m OK, I’m OK,’ ” he said. “And I never got back, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ Every time in my mind I was like, ‘I got this, I got this, I got this.’ ”

Season of change begins within for versatile Oswaldo Cabrera

Oswaldo Cabrera’s strong finish to the 2022 season, highlighted by a .247 batting average and a .740 OPS, landed him the coveted starting left-field role for the Yankees in 2023, beating out veteran Aaron Hicks.

Unfortunately, despite the golden opportunity, Oswaldo Cabrera’s performance faltered. Across 115 games, he mustered a lower batting average of .211 and a significantly lower OPS of .574, failing to meet expectations. Hoping to ignite his offensive spark, the Yankees sent Oswaldo Cabrera down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre three times throughout the season. However, each trip was short-lived as injuries within the major league squad necessitated his swift recall.

In a surprising turn of events, Oswaldo Cabrera, known for his infectious optimism, revealed on Monday that his positive outlook might have unintentionally hindered him during the previous year.

He reflected on his struggles from the previous year, attributing them to his inherent optimism. Instead of critically evaluating his performance, he constantly reassured himself that everything was fine, which prevented him from identifying and rectifying any issues.

Oswaldo Cabrera’s turnaround began with a crucial realization: he needed change. During his third stint in Triple-A, he had open discussions with hitting coach Trevor Amicone and a mental skills coach. These conversations led him to delve into his past successes and identify the elements that fueled his hitting prowess.

This introspection sparked a renewed focus on confidence building during the offseason. He participated in 25 games in his native Venezuela, playing alongside his brother Leobaldo, an experience he described as deeply enriching. Additionally, he teamed up with a new hitting coach James Rowson to refine his mechanics. Specifically, they emphasized the importance of taking his hitting stance earlier, aiming to improve his swing mechanics and unlock his potential.

Oswaldo Cabrera mentioned that he’s been gathering insights from various sources, including past teammates and mentors, to improve his game. Conversations with his brother and catcher Carlos Narvaez have reminded him of certain aspects he had overlooked. Reflecting on these discussions, Cabrera expressed his enthusiasm for implementing these adjustments in the upcoming season.


“It’s just conversations with people that saw me playing back in the day, in minors and everything. It’s grabbing something from different people,” he said. “My brother tells me something and I’d say, ‘Yeah, I forget that.’ [Catcher Carlos] Narvaez told me something, I was like, ‘Right, I’ve been doing that in my mind.’ A couple things I feel I didn’t last year. So for that reason this year, I’m so excited.”

During his time in Venezuelan winter ball, Oswaldo, who can switch-hit, opted to face all pitches from the left side of the plate, even when confronted with left-handed pitchers.

Mind over matter for evolving Yankee Oswaldo Cabrera

Oswaldo Cabrera’s trademark grin was on full display again Tuesday morning at the Yankees’ player development complex. During a pre-spring training session, he tracked flyballs in right field, his bright smile visible even as he retrieved a baseball near the outfield wall. With cheerful greetings and fist pumps, he acknowledged the assembled beat writers across the field.

This infectious positivity has been a constant in Oswaldo Cabrera’s life, and he intends to bring it to what he expects to be a bounce-back season. As the Yankees navigate free-agent departures like Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the ex-star prospect is poised to step into the role of the team’s new super-utility player.

The utility player expressed his current positive state, stating that he cannot foresee the future but feels confident in his hitting abilities and the progress he made during the offseason. He conveyed excitement about the upcoming season, indicating that he believes his game is in a strong position.

Last season, Oswaldo Cabrera’s vibrant energy, a hallmark of his rookie year, seemed to dim. During his extended sophomore slump, which followed his promising 2022 debut, he recognized the need for a mindset shift.

Despite earning the starting left field position on Opening Day 2023, Oswaldo Cabrera struggled to find his rhythm at the plate. Multiple demotions to Triple-A further eroded his usual unwavering confidence.

He mentioned his appreciation for receiving advice from others but emphasized that he already had a clear understanding of what he needed to do. However, upon experiencing discomfort during at-bats in Triple-A over several games, he took the initiative to meet with the hitting coach and the mental coach to address the issue.

“I like that people talk to me (with advice), but in my mind it’s, ‘I know what I have to do,’” he said. “But when I got to Triple-A the third time and in three or four games I didn’t feel good taking at-bats, I went into the office with the hitting coach and the mental coach and said, ‘Man, I’m not feeling good. I have to do something else.’

“Those conversations started me thinking about who I am for things I’d been doing in the past and just play. Just go to the field and let it go.”

Oswaldo Cabrera noted that these conversations prompted introspection regarding his identity and past actions, ultimately leading him to adopt a mindset of simply playing freely and without inhibition upon arriving at the field.

Cabrera showed sparks after a season of struggles


Returning to the Yankees in early August, Oswaldo Cabrera saw out the season with the big league squad. However, despite flashes of brilliance, his overall numbers left much to be desired: a .211 batting average, five home runs, 29 RBIs, and a .574 OPS in 115 games. Notably, he saw action across seven different positions, excluding pitcher and catcher, showcasing his versatility.

Despite the season’s hurdles, Oswaldo Cabrera finished on a positive mental note. He participated in 25 games for his Venezuelan Winter League team La Guaira, even playing alongside reigning National League MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. This experience fueled his confidence, and he now enters spring training feeling remarkably upbeat about his prospects.

He expressed his enthusiasm for playing in Venezuela, highlighting the enjoyable experience, particularly the interaction with the local people who conversed in Spanish, which added to the overall enjoyment of the experience.

The highlight of Oswaldo Cabrera’s offseason was experiencing the novelty of being teammates with his older brother Leobaldo, who had previously been a minor-league outfielder in the Yankees’ system and had played independent baseball the previous summer. Oswaldo, who was nearing his 25th birthday on March 1, reflected on the experience, describing it as the most beautiful moment in his career.

Oswaldo Cabrera aims for rebound

Yankees rookies Jasson Dominguez, Oswald Peraza, and Oswaldo Cabrera.

Oswaldo Cabrera’s strong rookie finish in 2022, with a .246 average, six homers, 19 RBIs, and a .740 OPS in 44 games, serves as a blueprint for success this year. He’s likely to be deployed across the infield (second, short, third) and both corner outfield spots, showcasing his trademark versatility. He even playfully hinted at his first baseman’s glove and curveball skills, potentially adding another layer to his utility value.

While not expected to follow IKF’s pitching exploits from last season, the Yankees anticipate Oswaldo Cabrera’s reliable defense and offensive contributions from both sides of the plate. Interestingly, he plans to primarily bat right-handed against lefties this season, despite showing a left-on-left tendency recently. He remains a switch-hitter, offering valuable flexibility to the lineup.

Oswaldo Cabrera expressed confidence in his ability to hit from the right side, noting that he performed slightly better from that side in 2023, batting .215 compared to .200 from the left side.

Last season, he faced challenges at the plate, specifically struggling with fastballs. He often fouled them off instead of hitting them effectively, and his groundball rate skyrocketed from 30.4% in 2022 to a concerning 48.5%.

Despite these past difficulties, Oswaldo Cabrera remains optimistic about the upcoming season. He believes improved timing at the plate will be key, allowing him to drive fastballs into the gaps and unlock his offensive potential.

Aaron Judge celebrates with Oswaldo Cabrera, who hit a home run in the Yankees vs. Pirates game on Sept. 16, 2023, at PNC Park.

He acknowledged his familiarity with his swing and capabilities, emphasizing the need to return to the ready position he maintained during his time in the minor leagues. Reflecting on his rookie year, he also highlighted its success.

Oswaldo Cabrera expressed the importance of regaining confidence, noting that without it, he would struggle to make sound decisions and execute quality swings. His self-assurance is growing, partly due to the guidance he’s receiving from the recently appointed hitting coach, James Rowson.

Oswaldo Cabrera emphasized the extensive effort and dedication put into his preparation, highlighting the focus on timing as a significant area of improvement. He acknowledged that last year, he struggled with being too rushed in his approach, aiming to make adjustments to ensure he gets into position earlier.

Oswaldo Cabrera is counting down the days until Yankees’ position players report for spring training next week. He’s already immersed in hitting discussions with offseason acquisition Alex Verdugo and eagerly awaits the chance to learn from star slugger Juan Soto, another major offseason addition.

His goal is to shine offensively during spring training and enter the regular season ready to make a two-way impact. He aims to contribute both at the plate and defensively, utilizing his trademark versatility across various positions.

Aaron Judge with Oswaldo Cabrera

Oswaldo Cabrera expressed his eagerness and determination to earn a spot on the team and contribute in any way possible to meet the team’s needs. He mentioned on Monday, following his workout at the Yankees’ player development complex, that he’s focused on rebuilding his confidence. He emphasized the importance of mental strength, stating that he worked extensively on enhancing it during the offseason. Oswaldo Cabrera admitted to feeling a slight decline in his usual aggressive playing style last year but affirmed his intention to reclaim that mindset for the upcoming season.

He expressed his confidence in his ability to hit from the right side, mentioning that he’s been practicing hitting from both sides of the plate during batting practice over the past two days. Oswaldo Cabrera explained that his focus on lefty-lefty matchups in practice was aimed at enhancing his readiness for such situations during games.

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2 thoughts on “Oswaldo Cabrera makes candid introspection, commits to mindset shakeup

  1. There really isn’t a big enough spotlight on just how bad coaching by analytics is. Both Peraza and Cabrera. complained about it last year. Peraza went even further saying he stopped listening to everything, and went back to what he did that help make him a top prospect. My question still is: WHY DOES DILLON LAWSON’S PERSONAL PICK AS HIS ASST HC STILL HAVE HIS JOB HERE? Sorry, about the all caps, but no one seems to actually even try to answer this question.

    1. As long as Boone and company allow their game management – especially the pitching staff- to be ruled by analytics the Yankees will NEVER win the Wotld Series.

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