Cabrera returns to Angel Stadium

Cabrera returns to Angel Stadium

AHAHEIM -- Orlando Cabrera's return to Angel Stadium began with him practically needing a road map to find his way to the unfamiliar visitor's side Monday, and culminated with him accepting his second career Rawlings Gold Glove Award, presented to him in a pregame ceremony by Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

While the teams stretched during batting practice, Cabrera visited with former teammates, including Erick Aybar, who took Cabrera's starting shortstop job when Cabrera was traded to the White Sox last November for starting pitcher Jon Garland. Cabrera also shared a hug with Vladimir Guerrero, his longtime friend and teammate. The two originally broke into professional baseball in 1993 with the rookie-level Dominican Summer League Expos.

Cabrera spent three years with the Angels and had his best offensive and defensive year in 2007, when he hit .301 with 192 hits.

"It was kind of weird, I got lost a little bit," Cabrera said of his return. He expressed gratitude to the Angels fans, who gave him a pleasant ovation when he received the award and led off the top of the first inning for the White Sox. It was a far cry from 2005, when he struggled early as the replacement for fan-favorite David Eckstein.

"I really miss this place," Cabrera said. "These guys were great to me, and Mike Scioscia is unbelievable. I had some of my best times in baseball here. I really miss it, but I'm making the transition to Chicago."

Cabrera also had high praise for Scioscia, calling him "the smartest manager in the big leagues right now."

Cabrera, who won his first Gold Glove in 2001 as a member of the Montreal Expos, said he has followed the progress of Aybar, whose rise made Cabrera expendable and allowed the Angels to add starting pitching depth.

Scioscia said Aybar has the chance to become the kind of impact shortstop Cabrera is.

"The transition is still happening, and it's a different look we have," Scioscia said. "There's a whole package that Orlando brings that hopefully Erick is going to grow into. He's not there yet, but he's holding his own. I think he has a chance to be a dynamic offensive player in the batter's box and we're seeing glimpses of it. He has the potential to get on a run like he's been on now and we may see that consistency."

In a moment that reflected the changing of the guard, Cabrera bounced into an inning-ending double play in which Aybar was the man in the middle.

John Klima is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.