CLEVELAND (AP) — Asdrubal Cabrera’s voice choked with emotion and his eyes filled up with tears.
For the second day in a row, the contending Indians traded a valuable veteran.
Cleveland sent Cabrera to the Washington Nationals on Thursday for infielder Zach Walters. Cabrera, a switch-hitting shortstop and two-time All-Star, made his major league debut with the Indians in 2007 and had spent his entire career with Cleveland before the deal.
“I had fun here,” he said. “This was the team that gave me the opportunity to play. It’s hard … it’s hard. It was like I grew up here.”
The deal came about 24 hours after the Indians traded pitcher Justin Masterson, who began the season as their No. 1 starter, to St. Louis for minor league outfielder James Ramsay.
“It’s another tough day for a number of us personally, because of how much Asdrubal meant to our team and our organization,” general manager Chris Antonetti said. “He’s a guy who has impacted two postseasons for us. We’ll obviously miss Asdrubal a great deal.”
Masterson and Cabrera are eligible for free agency after the season.
“That’s the business,” Cabrera said. “It surprised me a little bit, but there is nothing I could do. I knew this was going to be possible. Today when I got here, I didn’t even know it was happening.”
Cabrera went 0 for 4 in Wednesday night’s 2-0 win over Seattle in his final game with the Indians.
“I tried to do too much, because I felt like it might be the last one,” he said. “We won, that’s nice, which is the best thing.”
While Cabrera was obviously affected by the trade, it was business as usual for his 7-year-old son, Meyer, a frequent clubhouse visitor. Meyer Cabrera was playing catch on the field while his father’s former teammates took batting practice before Thursday’s game against Seattle.
Mike Aviles and Jose Ramirez will replace Cabrera at shortstop.
“We feel very confident in both guys,” Antonetti said. “We still feel we’re a good team and those guys will do a capable job.”
Shortstop Francisco Lindor, the Indians’ top prospect, was moved up to Triple-A Columbus last week. Antonetti said he wasn’t sure if the 20-year-old Lindor would be called up this season.
For the second straight day, Indians manager Terry Francona found himself saying goodbye to a key player.
“That’s not fun to do, ever, but once you get past that, this is an opportunity for us to try to get better.” he said. “That part is exciting.”
While the Indians are unloading veterans, the Detroit Tigers bolstered their pitching staff by acquiring pitcher David Price from Tampa Bay. Heading into Thursday’s action, Cleveland trailed AL Central-leading Detroit by 6 1/2 games and was five back in the wild-card race.
“They were a really good team two days ago and they’re certainly a really good team now,” Antonetti said of the Tigers. “We know we have our work cut out for us to try to catch them.”
Antonetti said Walters, a switch hitter, is a versatile infielder capable of contributing at the major league level soon.
Walters, 24, batted .205 with three homers and five RBIs in 32 games for the Nationals this season. He will join Triple-A Columbus. Walters has primarily played shortstop, but also can play second and third.