Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

The New Guys

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

The New Guys

Article excerpt

The new shortstop

Asdrubal Cabrera

Asdrubal Cabrera -- knows his first name can be intimidating.

The Venezuelan switch-hitter has an easygoing manner, but he can see Rays fans hesitate when they approach him at spring training.

"They don't even try," he says, laughing. "They can call me Cabby or A.C. That's what they called me in Cleveland."

Cabrera is the only Asdrubal -- it's pronounced "as-DROO-bull" -- in the history of Major League Baseball, according to the Tampa Bay media guide. Yet the 29-year-old never thought his name was all that unusual.

"It's my daddy's name, too," he says with a smile. "I'm a Junior."

Kevin Cash

Tampa Bay's manager is new, too.

Kevin Cash is 37 -- the youngest manager in the majors -- and he seems boyish, even with a trace of gray in the stubble of his beard.

Dark eyes. Faint rings beneath those eyes. A focused look. He leans forward in his chair. No jewelry, save the digital watch on his left wrist.

Cash seems stripped-down and intense after Joe Maddon, the silver- haired manager who left the Rays for the Chicago Cubs.

Maddon, a natural storyteller and bon vivant, was popular with Rays fans and Tampa Bay reporters. He could and would hold forth on everything from bicycling to red wine and the latest book he was reading. Then he'd lean back in his chair and smile.

Press conference? More like performance art.

Cash is a different story. He sits down and takes questions. He answers those questions and that's that.

Tampa beat writers have been timing his press conferences and teasing him about it. Some are done in less than 10 minutes.

When Cash makes a joke, it's usually a self-deprecating one. He makes fun of his golf game -- "I stink" -- or his inability to hit big league pitching as a player. Sometimes he combines the two, like when he was asked to analyze his failure with a golf ball.

"It's the same as baseball," he jokes. "I just couldn't hit it."

After a press conference, upon request, Cash will entertain non- baseball questions. No problem. He nods and leans forward.

There's one of those little Keurig coffee machines behind the desk in his office. His favorite flavor? "Anything bold, dark, black."

Cash grew up on the north side of Tampa. His dad was an original Rays season ticket holder. His youth team made the Little League World Series.

Cash went to Gaither High School. He bused tables at a restaurant, Iavarone's. He went to Florida State University, where he met his wife Emily. They have a son and two daughters.

He plays cards -- "Cribbage" -- but doesn't go to the movies much. He does enjoy season after season of cable TV dramas.

"Oh, man, I can knock those out," he says. "After a ballgame, I'll be up until 2 or 3 in the morning. I loved 'Breaking Bad.' I liked 'Dexter.' I'm getting ready to start 'House of Cards.'"

Steven Souza Jr.

The new outfielder, Steven Souza Jr. …

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