Miguel Cabrera used crutches to maneuver around the visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field on his sprained right ankle, a discouraging sign for his chances of returning to action in these final days of the Tigers season. However, he still holds out hope that he might be able to play this week.
“Let me see how I feel tomorrow or the next day,” Cabrera said Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t know if it’s day-to-day. Today I don’t feel good to play, so let’s see about tomorrow.”
The Tigers, meanwhile, were guarded in their comments, other than x-ray results that showed no structural damage.
“He’s not too good,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s hurting. That’s all I have for you on that. He will definitely not play today.”
Don Kelly was in Tuesday’s starting lineup at first base. Ryan Raburn batted in the cleanup spot in Cabrera’s place. It was just the seventh game of the lineup for Cabrera, who leads the team in games played with 150.
Cabrera turned his ankle stepping awkwardly on first base on a pickoff play Monday against the Indians. He immediately crumbled to the ground in pain, and after getting back onto his feet, he could barely put any weight on his right foot as he limped back to the dugout with help from head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.
At that point, Cabrera worried he had do something worse to his ankle. Considering his teammate and good friend Magglio Ordonez broke his ankle sliding into home plate back in July, an injury that led to season-ending surgery, he was understandably worried.
“When I twisted it, I heard a lot of [cracking],” Cabrera said. “So I was worried right at that point. But when I come in here, they tell me it’s not broken. I got the x-ray last night, they say there’s no bone broken. After that, I feel better. Hopefully the swelling will go, I can move better and tomorrow and try to finish the season with my team and play.”
He will not return to action, he emphasized, just to try to hold onto the American League RBI lead and enhance his MVP credentials in what is shaping up as a very close, hotly-debated contest.
“If I win, I win,” Cabrera said. “But right now, with this injury, I can’t control that. I can say I want to win. If I play, I say, ‘Yeah I want to win. I want to do everything I can to drive in more runs.’ But right now, I can’t control that. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
He isn’t trying to worry about that, but he’s a little frustrated over the way the injury unfolded. The pickoff throw that got him scrambling back to first came from catcher Luke Carlin throwing behind him, not pitcher Carlos Carrasco throwing over. It was the first time, Cabrera said, that any catcher had tried to pick him off this year.
“In that play,” Cabrera said, “it was a situation where it’s not going to be a bunt play. It’s not going to be a hit-and-run because we’ve got our fifth hitter. I don’t know why he pulled that play. Maybe he wants to prove he can play next year in the big leagues. I don’t know what he’s going to prove. But in that situation, I don’t know.
“That kind of surprised me right there. I don’t expect that play. I’m not a fast runner. I’m not going to steal second. I’m not going to do anything. I don’t know why he put too much attention on me.”
Carlin said he wasn’t expecting Cabrera to be running, and he felt bad that Cabrera was injured on the play. However, he defended the throw as an attempt to get an out and try to get out of a developing jam.
“They have so many good hitters in their lineup, we try to get outs any way we can,” Carlin said. “He got on first base when we intentionally walked him, and he had a pretty big lead and wasn’t getting back very quickly. Obviously he’s not going anywhere. There was somebody on second when we intentionally walked him as well. I knew he wasn’t going anywhere, but I was hoping maybe we could catch him off the bag a little bit and maybe get another out and get our pitcher out of a jam.
“It’s unfortunate. Obviously, we don’t want anybody to get hurt. Obviously he’s a great player, and I have a lot of respect for him. But no matter who’s out there, if I think I can pick him off, I’m going to go get him.”