Cabrera went 0-for-4 and made a nice sliding stop to retire Jimmy Rollins in the third inning. His best at-bat came in the second against right-hander Roberto Hernandez. On the first pitch he saw, Cabrera lined hard to first baseman Ryan Howard, who was able to double off Bryce Harper at first base.
In the ninth, Cabrera had a chance to drive in the tying run, but closer Jonathan Papelbon struck him out on three pitches to end the game.
Before the game, Cabrera took some early work at second before doing similar fielding drills during batting practice. He said it felt weird at second base, but he felt confident as the game went on. Cabrera has played most of his career at shortstop.
"If you play shortstop, you can play any position in the infield," Cabrera said.
Before the trade, Cabrera was hitting .246 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs. He said he was in the trainer's room when Indians manager Terry Francona told him he had been dealt to Washington. For the last three years, Cabrera had a feeling he would be traded. He felt it even more this year because he will be a free agent after the season.
"As soon as [Francona] came in, I knew something had happened. I'm happy to be here," Cabrera said. "I will try to help the team play hard and help them to win. … It makes me get excited. When you play for a team like the Nationals, it makes me feel good."
A few minutes after arriving, he told the coaching staff his son, Meyer, was upset about the trade, believing he would not be able to go in the clubhouse like he did with the Indians. But Williams assured Cabrera that his son could come in the clubhouse.
"We'll certainly invite his son in when he gets here [Saturday] …outfit him with our new [baseball apparel], so he will be excited about that," Williams said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.