SEATTLE Raul Ibanez displayed his trade value by hitting a grand slam to back another strong start from Felix Hernandez, and the Seattle Mariners ended the Cleveland Indians five-game winning streak with an 8-2 win last night.
Hitting-needy Arizona is reportedly in pursuit of the 36-year-old Ibanez, Seattle s RBI leader with 59 after his season-high four yesterday.
And the Mariners, 20 games under .500, are already bringing up rookies in a preview of 2009, increasing the likelihood for a fire sale of veterans before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.
Meanwhile, Indians manager Eric Wedge seems to be as concerned about what second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera puts in his stomach as how he s swinging the bat or playing the field.
It still starts with him on the physical side, Wedge said yesterday as the Indians opened the second half against Seattle at Safeco Field. I wanted to get him in better shape, where he was moving around better.
Cabrera rejoined the Indians yesterday. He said he s three to five pounds lighter than when he was sent to Class AAA Buffalo on June 9.
They did a real good job with him at Buffalo, said Wedge. He s not where he needs to be yet, but he s well on his way. He needs to continue doing that up here. That has as much to do with nutrition as anything.
He s 22. He s a baby. He has to learn what he needs to do throughout his daily routine to be the best player he can physically.
Cabrera isn t Wedge s only concern as the Indians started the last 68 games of the season in last place in the AL Central. He s watching for improvement from outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and David Dellucci and reliever Rafael Betancourt to name a few.
Wedge said Cabrera will spent most of his time at second. He played more shortstop than second base in Buffalo.
I don t know why, said Cabrera, who made 10 errors.
Said Wedge, He ll spell Jhonny Peralta from time to time at short. I feel we pushed Jhonny, Ben Francisco, Jamey Carroll and Casey Blake pretty good in the first half. I want to give them more time off, nothing extreme, but just to keep them strong through the second half.
Cabrera opened the season at second base. He was sent down after hitting .184 (29-for-158) with one homer and 14 RBI.
He quickly found his swing with the Bisons, hitting .326 (46-for-141) with 25 runs, seven doubles, four homers and 13 RBI in 34 games.
He was just named International League batter of the week for hitting .394 (13-for-33) with three doubles, three homers and six RBI.
Cabrera said he changed his swing a little and stood taller at the plate.
Before I got sent down, I went to the plate every time thinking I had to get a hit, said Cabrera. After I got to Buffalo, I just relaxed. I feel much more comfortable now.
Wedge is looking for more discipline from Cabrera, who struck out 40 times in 158 at-bats. He wants him to hit the ball to the middle of the field.
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