Melky Cabrera looks good batting seventh for Pirates
No season-long determinations can be — or should be — made after the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first two games.
But maybe keeping Starling Marte healthy and batting second in the lineup and Melky Cabrera seventh while he mans right field in Gregory Polanco’s absence is the way to go for now.
Batting seventh, Cabrera had two singles and scored a run Sunday in the 5-0 victory against the Cincinnati Reds. Marte filled up his stat line with a double, walk, stolen base and two runs.
On Thursday, Cabrera was forced to bat second when Marte was disabled by a migraine shortly before the first pitch. Marte didn’t play, and Cabrera was 0 for 4 in the 5-3 Reds’ victory. Overall, Cabrera is 2 for 8 with one strikeout.
Cabrera is in the starting lineup because Lonnie Chisenhall, who was acquired as a temporary replacement for Polanco, has a broken index finger on his right hand and is on the 10-day disabled list.
“It’s not the way you want to go in (the lineup),” Cabrera said. “You never desire for one of your teammates to get injured. I feel for Lonnie. “However, I’m excited to go into the season and I’m thankful for the manager of this team trusting me to take over that position right now.
“I feel good playing anywhere Clint (Hurdle) puts me.”
That will be right field for the foreseeable future.
In both games, Hurdle inserted Pablo Reyes as a late-inning defensive replacement for Cabrera. JB Shuck also can play right field.
“They are all great players. J.B. is great defensively,” Cabrera said. “The manager can look at all of us and say, ‘Hey, I can depend on each one of those guys.’ ”
Cabrera, 34, could turn into a reliable hitter either in the starting lineup or off the bench. In 15 seasons, he has 6,512 at-bats and 1,858 hits. Just last season, he slashed .280/.335/.420 for the Cleveland Indians.
“I’m very grateful, very happy, very excited to take part in another season,” he said. “I try to demonstrate my gratitude in always giving my excellence in everything I do. Being a complete, professional athlete out here and being an example to others.”
Cabrera said there’s no secret to his long career — just keeping a watchful eye on what matters.
“I always make a priority my mental condition and my physical condition,” he said.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .