Young Yankees do-everything utilityman Oswaldo Cabrera takes a swing at some Q&A from Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: When your brother, Leobaldo, was released by the Yankees in 2018, did that motivate you?
A: Hundred percent, hundred percent. He is like my big mentor, after my dad and my mom, in baseball, in life. And when that guy got released, of course it was a hard moment for me too, because it’s my brother, you know? And that got me more motivated to like, “OK, I have to do this for all my family, feel more proud of us.” I want my family in the stands to watch me play, that was one of my dreams.
Q: From your Instagram: “Don’t let the fear of falling stop you from flying.”
A: I’m a dreamer. I’m a guy who don’t care if I feel afraid to do something, I just go for it. If I want to do it, I don’t stop because I feel like afraid, I don’t want to do — no, no, no. That’s a challenge for me. I’m the type of guy when the fear’s coming hard in my life, I just go through it.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
A: Last year was one of my hard moments in my career, [it] was my first time with an injury. I hit my [shoulder] bone with the bat, I don’t know how, don’t ask me how. I lost like two months, hitting .160, something like that, in Triple-A. Yankees don’t know me, I wasn’t that big prospect in the organization, and it’s like, “This is my year, this is the year that I have to make it,” you know? We were talking after the first month to make the surgery. I was thinking about it every day, like I was .160, .160 in my head, you know (laugh). I have to come back and change that because that’s not Oswaldo Cabrera.
Q: From your Instagram: “Hesitate because life goes fast.”
A: You need to try to have fun all the time. … Sounds bad, but you don’t know when you’re gonna pass away, so you have to enjoy the life. You can’t lose the time just worry about a lot of things. You have to find a way.
Q: “Life gives you obstacles but you set the limits.”
A: If you say, “I can’t do more than this, because this is too much for me” — that’s your limit, you know? My injury, that was an obstacle, and I say, “I’m better than this,” you know?
Q: “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”
A: You see how LeBron James misses a lot of shots, and he’s a winner, you know? He lost more Finals than he won, but he is still being the best in the NBA. So he’s a winner because he never quit.
Q: Give me a scouting report on Oswaldo Cabrera.
A: If I have to make a report of myself, I can tell you that I never quit. The mindset is win that day, but at the same time he’s not a guy who’s frustrated when things don’t go in the right way. I try to be just one guy in the good moments, in the bad moments. And, about baseball — I’m not gonna say anything about baseball, I’m just gonna say things about my mindset all the time … always compete, always play hard.
Q: Describe your on-field mentality.
A: I try to be the most focused possible that I can, trying to have fun, but at the same time don’t do everything like it’s a joke, because this is my work.
Q: How did you become a switch-hitter?
A: I was a righty natural. So when I was like 12 years old in Venezuela, I was practicing with my coaches, and one day we were winning like 8-1 (laugh) and they say, “This is the moment to start to hit lefty.” I said, “OK.” That was my first AB — boom!
Q: Are you better lefty than righty?
A: I’m working both. I’m working to get more consistency in both, so I can’t tell you if I’m better lefty or righty because I want to keep working to feel confidence in both.
Q: Tell me about your third base catch when you got a bloody nose hitting a railing in the stands.
A: That was a good catch, but in that moment, that hurts a little bit (laugh).
Q: Describe the catch you made robbing a home run in right field.
A: That was my favorite moment in baseball right now. It was amazing.
Q: Can you play catcher if Aaron Boone needed you to catch?
A: Why not? (Laugh). That was my favorite position when I was young. And I remember my last game, [brother] Eleardo, he was a pitcher too, and he throw so hard, and he break my fingers like three times in one game, and I say, “No more.”
Q: How old were you?
A: I was like 12 years old, 13 years old.
Q: That was your only time catching?
A: No, no, no. I’ve been catching in the past too, but that day they needed me in the game because the starting catcher, something happened with him.
Q: How about if Aaron Boone asked you to pitch?
A: Oh, yeah. Hundred percent.
Q: You never pitched before though?
A: No … why not? I never played center field and I did. I never played first base and I did (laugh).
Q: Is second base your best position?
A: I try to feel comfortable in all positions. I just don’t have any favorite, like today I can feel happy playing shortstop and tomorrow playing right field.
Q: Are you proud that you’re so valuable as a utility super-sub, whatever you want to call it?
A: I’m grateful because they can know that I’m working for it. Not too many players have the opportunity to show so I’m grateful that they give me the opportunity, you know?
Q: Wouldn’t you rather just stay in one position?
A: No. I want to be around all the time. Help the team win, that’s my mentality, help the team win.
Q: If you could sit down and talk with any player in baseball history, who would it be?
A: One is Omar Vizquel. And the other guy is Marco Scutaro.
Q: If you could face any pitcher in baseball history?
A: Randy Johnson. He’s probably the one that I want to feel how that looks from the batter’s box.
Q: How did you learn English?
A: We got an English class here on the team. At the same time, I’m not afraid to talk with the people or say something wrong. I can say to my teammates “If I say something wrong, just correct me and say the right way to speak.” JP Sears, was one of the people that really teach me. I remember him pretty well because he was one of the guys like “OK, don’t say this. Just change this word for this.”
Q: Did you ever say anything funny that people said, “What is he talking about?”
A: (Laugh) The first year I remember was with Isiah Gilliam, he was in minors with us, now I think he’s with Cincinnati Reds, and I have to say “me” and I say “I.”
Q: He corrected you?
A: “When you’re talking about you [yourself], it’s ‘me,’ not ‘I.’ ”
A: Not right now. I was with Ender Inciarte, a guy who won three Gold Gloves as an outfielder, and he told me a history about Ronald Acuña, he got like 5-for-5 with a yellow batting glove, yellow cleats, and the next day he come with a red batting glove and red cleats, and everybody was like, “Bro, you get 5-for-5 last night, why you change that?” And he says like, “If you put the cleats and the batting glove in the home plate, they gonna hit? I’m the hitter, they are not the hitter.”
Q: Describe your father, Leovardo.
A: That’s the guy who worked so hard in the past, my mom too, all for the kids. I have the new Nikes, and my dad doesn’t have anything new. He don’t care about himself. Things like we’re gonna eat and we don’t have too much money and he’s gonna buy for us, and he’s just gonna eat a piece of chicken, and we got three, you know? We as kids, we don’t think about it. But today, we say like, “My dad was lying to me, saying that he’s not hungry.” He was hungry, but he don’t have too much money.
Q: Tell me about your mother, Yiti.
A: If I have to play three hours away from my home on the weekend, and I have to wake up at 5 a.m., my mom wake up at 4 a.m. to make the food, and at the same time she have to work at night. She is the type of mother who cares more about us. My mom gave me my bread and she say, “I’m not hungry, take it.” But today I say she was hungry, she just wanted the best for me. Those type of things that make me feel happy and motivated.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, Daddy Yankee.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: “Invisible Guest.”
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Mario Casas.
Q: Favorite actress?
Q: Favorite singer?
A: Elaveo Carreon.
Q: Favorite meal?
A: Arepas. Everything from Venezuela (smile).
Q: Everyone knows about your necklace.
A: It’s like my brand. People know that I’m using it, they recognize me like, “He’s Oswaldo because he’s using the necklace.”
Q: Where are you living?
A: New Rochelle.
Q: Are you recognized?
Q: How do you feel about that?
A: Proud. People want to take some pictures, it’s like, “Why not?”
Q: What are your goals?
A: First goal, obviously, help the team win all the time to win the championships. Personally, I want to be the guy who the manager can say like, “I want this guy playing every day.” Just be better every day, be better.
Q: Describe Yankees fans.
A: From the first time that I come here that I make my debut, the people give me that love, give me that energy to be just myself inside of the field.
Q: How do you like playing in New York?
A: It’s the biggest team in the world, in baseball. When I get back in Venezuela and the people ask me for what team I’m playing … even when the people don’t know about baseball, they know about New York Yankees. So when I say that I play for the Yankees, everybody gets like surprised.
Q: What is so great about being a New York Yankee?
A: It means a lot to wear the Yankee logo on my chest, in my heart. I feel so proud of myself to be here, and I feel grateful with the opportunity that they give me.
Q: How painful was it losing the ALCS to the Astros last year?
A: That was painful, hundred percent. It’s like something that we can learn [from], to get better this year.
Q: Can this team win a World Series?
A: I can’t predict that. But at the same time, I give my 100 percent in my offseason to just help the team win the World Series. But when I get here in spring training, I see everybody doing like me, with the same mentality. I see everybody coming in shape. So I can’t predict like we’re gonna win the championship … ***** but ***** , everybody’s commitment [is] in the same page to win the championship here.
A: Everybody’s hungry. In the first day of spring training I got a shirt that say “Hungry.” The people have to know that we are hungry. Not just me. We are hungry.