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Melky Cabrera doesn’t like R word: ‘We have talent to compete’

Chicago White Sox's Melky Cabrera hits during a spring training baseball game Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Left fielder Melky Cabrera echoes the sentiment we’ve heard from other White Sox players and coaches during spring training: We might be rebuilding, but we aren’t about to surrender in April.

“I always try to see the whole process in the big picture,’’ said Cabrera, 32, a veteran of 11 seasons in the majors. “Maybe we’re [rebuilding], but we have the talent to compete. We lost a few players, but we have a lot of talent still here. You go out and compete because you don’t know what can happen.’’

While Cabrera and Co. are firm on staying competitive, it only figures a team that went 78-84 last season and lost Chris Sale and Adam Eaton will be worse. Because his contract is up after this season, Cabrera likely will be traded for the third time in his career.

“I have no control over it,’’ Cabrera said. “I would love to stay here for the end of my career because I really like this team and I really like this city. Those are decisions the front office makes.’’

Cabrera would do the front office a favor by having a strong first half and enhancing his trade value. He wrapped up his preparation in Arizona in a good place hitting-wise.

“My swing right now is where I want it to be,’’ he said.

This much is certain: Cabrera still can hit, and he’s being paid more than any other hitter on the team to do it.

Cabrera who began his career with the Yankees in 2005, played center field for the 2009 World Series champions. After one season with the Braves, Royals and Giants and two with the Blue Jays, the Sox signed him to a three-year, $42 million deal before the 2015 season.

Cabrera batted .296 with 14 homers, 42 doubles and 86 RBI last season. He also doubled as a clubhouse comic, and most coaches and players would say he’s the one they want hitting with a game on the line.

Nevertheless, Cabrera’s name rarely came up in trade rumors because of where he rates among left fielders defensively. But he could become a sought after addition for a contending team looking to inject some offense at the trade deadline.

“The only thing I can control is how I perform on the field,’’ he said.

NOTES: Featuring a first-string lineup three days before Opening Day, the White Sox had one of their worst hitting performances of the spring in a 5-2 loss to the Brewers in Milwaukee. Brewers right-hander Chase Anderson struck out six in five innings.

Tim Anderson (three strikeouts), Cabrera, Jose Abreu, Cody Asche and Avisail Garcia were all hitless in three at-bats.

• Left-hander Giovanni Soto and outfielder Rymer Liriano were outrighted to Class AAA Charlotte. The moves allow the Sox to purchase the contracts of catcher Geovany Soto, right-hander Anthony Swarzak and outfielder Cody Asche, non-roster invitees who are expected to be on the Opening Day roster.

• Manager Rick Renteria’s lineup had the look of a potential starting nine for the opener Monday against the visiting Tigers: Tyler Saladino 2B, Anderson SS, Cabrera LF, Abreu 1B, Todd Frazier 3B, Asche DH, Leury Garcia RF,

C Soto, Jacob May CF.

James Shields was scheduled to pitch but threw in the bullpen instead. Minor-leaguer Greg Infante started in his place. Derek Holland will start Saturday.

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Hernan Perez of the Brewers steals second base as the White Sox’ Tyler Saladino applies a late tag at Miller Park Friday. (Getty Images)
Hernan Perez of the Brewers steals second base as the White Sox’ Tyler Saladino applies a late tag at Miller Park Friday. (Getty Images)