Cairo with the Cincinnati Reds
|Born: May 4, 1974|
Anaco, Anzoátegui, Venezuela
|April 17, 1996, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 3, 2012, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Runs batted in||394|
Miguel Jesús Cairo [ki'-row] (born May 4, 1974), is a Venezuelan former professional baseball infielder, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for nine different clubs in a 17-year career, spanning from 1996 to 2012. During his playing days, Cairo stood 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall, weighing 225 pounds (102 kg); he batted and threw right-handed.
While Cairo was primarily a second baseman, he was able to play all infield positions and the corner outfield. A decent hitter, he was certainly good enough for pinch-hitting duties late in his career.
Cairo was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 20, 1990. After beginning his career with the Dodgers Dominican Summer League team, he played with the rookie class Gulf Coast Dodgers (1992), Class-A Vero Beach Dodgers (1992-1993), Advanced Class-A Bakersfield Dodgers (1994) and AA San Antonio Missions.
On November 29, 1995, the Dodgers traded Cairo with Willis Otañez to the Seattle Mariners for Mike Blowers, who then traded him, along with Bill Risley, to the Toronto Blue Jays for Edwin Hurtado and Paul Menhart on December 18, 1995.
Cairo made his major league debut with the Toronto Blue Jays on April 17, 1996 as the starting 2nd baseman. In his first Major League at-bat, he hit a double off of Chuck Finley of the California Angels. He played in 9 games for the Blue Jays, with 6 hits in 27 at-bats for a .222 average. He also played in 120 games for the AAA Syracuse Chiefs, hitting .277.
On November 20, 1996, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor leaguer Jason Stevenson. Cairo spent most of the 1997 season with the AAA Iowa Cubs, where he hit .279 in 135 games and was selected to the American Association All-Star team. He also appeared in 16 games for the Cubs and had 7 hits in 29 at-bats (.241).
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected Cairo with the eighth pick in the 1997 MLB expansion draft. He hit his first home run on April 28, 1998 off of Mike Oquist for the Oakland Athletics. He spent 3 seasons with the Devil Rays, playing fairly frequently, and hit .275 in 389 games.
In August 2001, the St. Louis Cardinals claimed Cairo on waivers from the Cubs. He remained with the Cardinals through the 2003 season. He hit .333 in 27 games in 2001, .250 in 108 games in 2002 and .245 in 92 games in 2003. He also appeared in the post-season for the first time in his career in 2001. In the 2002 National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants he had 5 hits, including a home run, in 13 at-bats.
Cairo signed with the New York Yankees during the 2003-04 offseason.
In 2004, Cairo won the second base job with the Yankees after starting the year in a platoon with Enrique Wilson. Cairo led the league in percentage of productive outs in 2005 for players with a minimum of 40 at-bats. Cairo recorded 17 productive outs in 32 productive out situations, for a PO% of 0.531. Cairo had the highest winning percentage of team wins when he played in a game of any player in the majors in 2005 (for players with over 100 games played). However, the Yankees declined to offer him a contract for 2005 and signed Tony Womack as their new second baseman.
He returned to the Yankees in 2006 and hit .239 in 81 games.
On August 7, 2007, the Yankees designated him for assignment in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Jason Giambi.
He was released on August 15. On August 19, 2007, the St. Louis Cardinals signed Cairo to a minor league contract, with him reporting to Triple-A Memphis on August 22. On September 1, 2007, the Cardinals activated him and brought him up to start at second base in a game against the Cincinnati Reds. He became a free agent after the season.
On January 8, 2008, he signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners.
Early at the season, Cairo was seldom used losing his playing time to teammate Willie Bloomquist and Greg Norton. Norton was soon traded to the Atlanta Braves and, with outfield trouble, the Mariners started a platoon with Bloomquist and Jeremy Reed in center field. which allowed Cairo to be a back-up for struggling first baseman Richie Sexson.
On July 10, the Mariners released Sexson and Cairo assumed the role of full-time first baseman for a few days until Bryan LaHair was finished ailing a sore toe. For the rest of the season, Cairo shared duties at first base with left-handed hitting LaHair, and started at the other infield positions when the incumbents had an off day.
On February 15, 2009, Cairo signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Philadelphia Phillies. On May 19, 2009, the Phillies outrighted Cairo to the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Cairo was sent back up to the Phillies on August 23 after they placed Greg Dobbs on the 15-day DL. He returned to the utility infield position, and was retained by the club through the remainder of the regular season. His performance during this stint, including several key hits, led to his inclusion in the division-winning team's post-season roster.
On January 27, 2010, Cairo signed a minor league contract with the Cincinnati Reds. On April 2, Cairo made the Opening Day roster. On December 8, as a free agent, he signed a two-year deal with the Reds, which was the first multi-year contract of his career. He had the first multi-home run game of his career on August 13, against the San Diego Padres, in a game that the Reds won 13-1.
In between, Cairo played winter ball with the Leones del Caracas and Cardenales de Lara clubs of the Venezuelan League during the 1993-2003 seasons, hitting .286 with a .351 slugging average in 358 games. Additionally, he hit .308 for the 2000-2001 Cardenales champion team en route to the 2001 Caribbean Series, where he batted .360 and slugged .680 with six RBI.
On February 14, 2013, the Reds announced that Cairo would operate as a special assistant to General Manager Walt Jocketty, effectively ending his playing career. At the end of spring training the Reds third base coach Mark Berry was diagnosed with throat cancer, then Cairo filled as the team's bench coach while Chris Speier moved to third base. With Berry's return Cairo moved back to his intended spot as assistant to Jocketty.
He currently works for the New York Yankees in Player Development and is an occasional infield coordinator throughout the Yankee minor league system.
On November 18, 2020, the Chicago White Sox announced that he will be joining the coaching staff. He will serve as a bench coach for manager Tony LaRussa.