Acta, Cabrera meet to discuss stability
Manager, pitcher talk about mental aspect of the game
SAN FRANCISCO -- Nationals manager Manny Acta and pitching coach Randy St. Claire held a 45-minute closed-door meeting with starting pitcher Daniel Cabrera prior to Tuesday night's game against the Giants.
According to Acta, the meeting was to address Cabrera's meltdown in Monday's game in which he completely unraveled after an error by outfielder Josh Willingham in the fourth inning. Cabrera, who allowed eight runs (three earned) on eight hits while walking six in 4 2/3 innings, was visibly distraught after the game and was unavailable for comment.
"We had a nice little meeting with him. I felt like it was time to sit him down and talk about the mental aspect of the game," Acta said. "The season is young and we have a lot of months left. We feel like he can do better and he understood what Randy and I were talking about."
For Cabrera, the start of the 2009 season has started poorly. In seven starts, the hard-throwing right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.98 ERA, including a team-high 28 walks and eight wild pitches.
Cabrera hasn't exactly pitched the way the Nationals had hoped when they signed him to a $2.6 million contract in December. Cabrera was 8-10 with a 5.25 ERA in 30 games last season with the Baltimore Orioles.
Acta said Cabrera's string of bad outings has been a combination of mental lapses, inconsistent mechanics and some defensive mistakes.
"There's some things mechanically that we have been working on with him since Spring Training. Things that he has done his whole career," Acta said. "He needs to understand that when things are not going well, he has to make adjustments."
In Monday's loss to the Giants, Willingham committed a crucial error in the fourth inning with runners on first and third, allowing two runs to score. At the time of the error, the Nats were behind 3-2 and Cabrera was one out away from getting out of the jam.
What happened after the error is what Acta and St. Claire spoke to Cabrera about during the meeting. Cabrera was visibly upset on the mound and proceeded to walk the next four batters he faced before being relieved with the bases loaded.
"He wasn't mad at the guys or anything like that, but he lost his composure," Acta said. "He recognizes that this is not the first time we have played bad defense behind him. But he has to realize that after an error, he has to keep throwing strikes and stay focused."
According to Acta, Cabrera is still in the rotation and will make his scheduled start against the Phillies on Sunday.
"He knows that it's a long season and he feels like he's just going through a rough stretch," Acta said. "It's not like he has pitched great, but he has only allowed 19 earned runs out of the 30 [he has given up]. It's weird but a lot of bad things have happened for him."
Jayson Addcox is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.