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Cabrera brings vocal leadership to Reds

Cabrera brings vocal leadership to Reds

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Attention younger Reds players. If there is one person in the clubhouse who shows signs of not wanting to win as much as shortstop Orlando Cabrera, he will find you.

Take any plays off, and expect Cabrera to be there to push you to do better. If you become selfish, he will likely tell you.

"If you show up at the park every day for just personal numbers, it really gets annoying," Cabrera said. "If I see something, guys getting off track or focused on things not important, yeah, I will say something to them. I like to play hard. I like to play smart. I like to show that at any given moment, you can beat any team."

Cabrera, 35, has become nomadic his past few years with stops on six different teams since 2004. But perhaps it's no coincidence that he's also been to the postseason in five of the past six seasons, including the past three consecutive years with the Angels, White Sox and Twins.

Most of the reviews from his previous stops were that Cabrera was a positive presence in the clubhouse.

A free agent again this past winter, Cabrera was signed to a one-year, $3.02 million contract by the Reds on Feb. 1 because they wanted to upgrade at the position offensively. His winning track record and leadership skills were also very coveted traits the club wanted for its very youthful roster to learn from.

"He's a leader that doesn't mind leading," manager Dusty Baker said. "A lot of leaders are people who are pushed into leadership. He's vocal. He believes he's a winner and he believes he can help us win. He believes where he goes, winning follows."

Cincinnati, which has not been to a postseason since 1995 and hasn't had a winning season since 2000, has a core of young players believed capable of taking the team to the next level. What it's lacked are veterans who have experienced winning. General manager Walt Jocketty first sought to remedy that issue last summer when Scott Rolen was acquired at the nonwaiver Trade Deadline. While Rolen is a quiet, lead-by-example type, Cabrera is more vocal.

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"One thing that I see in here is guys come here and they show up to the park to play," Cabrera said. "I think the difference is you need to show up to compete and you show up to win the ballgame. You really shouldn't care about average, how many hits or how many home runs you get. If you get the 'W,' everybody did something that day which will show up.

"We have a lot of talent here. I think a lot of the guys -- Scotty, Arthur [Rhodes] and me can show them what really matters is winning. If you don't win, you're wasting your time. You will get paid because they'll pay you for the numbers. Once you get that winning attitude, I promise you that paycheck will grow more."

Expected to be the Reds lineup's No. 2 presence, Cabrera is a .275 career hitter with 114 home runs, 761 RBIs and a .322 on-base percentage. Last season combined with Oakland and Minnesota, he batted .284 with nine home runs, 77 RBIs, 13 steals and a .313 OBP.

Cabrera, the brother of former Reds player Jolbert Cabrera, isn't one to take days off. He's played at least 160 games in a season five times and 150 games eight times.

On Monday vs. the A's, Cabrera was 2-for-4 with an RBI double and a run scored. He's batting .316 (6-for-19) in eight spring games.

Many have viewed the Reds as a potential sleeper pick to make waves in the National League Central race. Cabrera believed there is enough talent in the room and groundwork made to back up that feeling.

"I like to focus on the process. I think these guys have already been through that process for the last four years," Cabrera said. "Right now, we have to focus on the result. I think guys are prepared to do that. They want to win. They want to see what the postseason is all about."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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