Caravan notes: Cabrera stays upbeat about V-Mart
Everybody on the Tigers feels the loss of Victor Martinez, likely out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. But nobody is more likely to feel the aftereffects than Miguel Cabrera, the reigning AL batting champion and Tigers cleanup hitter. After all, the Tigers signed Martinez last winter to support Cabrera.
Cabrera, though, isn’t feeling the loss. Martinez won’t be in the lineup, Cabrera said, but he’ll still be a presence.
Apparently, Cabrera talked with Martinez this week, after the extent of the injury became clear.
“He told me, ‘Don’t get down. I’m going to work hard to get past the injuries,'” Cabrera said. “‘I’m going to do a lot of things to stay with the team. I’m going to support you a lot. I’m going to stay with you and hopefully get back on the field soon.'”
The field part is a question mark. Though the timetable from doctors and others have been through ACL surgery suggest anywhere from 8-10 months of recovery, Cabrera holds out hope Martinez could return by year’s end and be ready for the postseason.
The leadership aspect, the energy, seemed to be the biggest thing on Cabrera’s mind for Martinez. He saw the difference last year that Martinez brought. Even if Martinez isn’t physically around for most, if not all of the season, Cabrera still expects him to be a presence.
“I think even if he’s out for three months, four months, whatever he’s out, I think he’s going to be part of the team,” Cabrera said. “I think he’s going to be with us, he’s goinig to call everybody and we can call him. I think we’re going to be the same family.”
The bigger question on many minds, the question of how Martinez’s physical absence in the lineup affects Cabrera, wasn’t quite as big of a concern for him. When asked about the potential of how pressure on him, Cabrera politely shook his head.
“No, no, I don’t see it,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot of things about putting more pressure on yourself, and that’s no good. You have to go out there and do what you can control and do what can you do to lead to wins. We’re going to keep focused the whole year.”
He definitely didn’t look worried Thursday; he looked pretty relaxed at the Tigers’ winter caravan stops. While some Tigers took part in movie trivia at a fan rally at Birmingham’s Palladium 12 Theater, Cabrera caught a ball and a pen from a kid in the seats and signed.
Delmon not distracted by batting order: Delmon Young isn’t really worried about where he’s going to bat in the order with Victor Martinez. Whether he hits third, fifth or eighth, he knows his job is to drive in a runner in scoring position.
No, what matters more to Young is knowing that his name’s going to be in the lineup.
After 3 1/2 years in Minnesota, Young knows about dealing with injury-depleted lineups. Losing Martinez hurts, but it isn’t new territory for him, whether it impacts his spot in the order or not.
“I learned a lot in Minnesota in 2008 when [Michael] Cuddyer missed [a half] season,” he said. “And in 2009, when we went to game 163, we had [Justin] Morneau down the second half of the season, and guys just had to step up. In 2010, Morneau missed the second half of the season.
“So when guys are MVP-caliber players and you lose them, you can’t try to do too much. You just have to have everyone come in and play their own game. And whoever is the guy that comes in for them has to play their own game. Because if you try to put up the .330, 100 RBI type numbers Victor puts up, that’s rare. There’s only six or seven guys in Major League Baseball that batted .330-plus last year. You can’t go in and try to replace Victor, because you’re not going to do that.”
Young’s best numbers, coincidentally, came in 2010, when Morneau suffered a concussion around the midway point that cost him the rest of the year. Pressure wasn’t the factor, he said.
“No, I just knew I didn’t have to check the lineup anymore,” he said, “just like when I got here. Jim [Leyland] said, ‘You’re playing every day. If you need a day off, come talk to me.’ So I never had to go check the lineup and have a daily tryout to see if I could make the lineup the next day.”