Caravan notes: Cabrera stays upbeat about V-Mart

20120119-234928.jpgEverybody 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.”

20 Comments

Well that’s nice to know, thanks Jason. I’m still disappointed though. I had always heard about his influence in the clubhouse but to hear Miggy say that was the biggest part he was worried about says a lot!! Oh V-mart. :( :(

Sounds like Miggy is doing well – hope so. He is a leader on the field with his play, maybe if his personal problems are getting resolved and as he matures maybe he some day will be the clubhouse guy and maybe he learned a thing or two from VMart about how special that role is.

Yes, he looks fresh and rested. I think the whole team realizes what they lost with Victor’s injury on the field and off.
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Can’t talk. Gotta go. On my way to Kalamazoo to see Mr. D and some of the Tigers at WMU. My camera is charged and ready to go!

Just saw Paws, Boesch and Scherzer. Baseball is right around the corner.

What fun!. I think I was the first person to spot Mr. D before he was introduced. The luncheon (nice buffet) started off with introductions of the WMU coaches, President of WMU, WMU baseball team took their seats and then, finally the intro to Mr. D who was in the back of the room where I spotted him and took a few pictures. He spoke quite a bit about being a student at WMU (he was an honor student) and the lifelong friends he made while attending Western.It was so exciting when the players came in. They all looked terrific. Everyone hollered and clapped when it was suggested that Jackson should have won a gold glove.
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The highlight film was beautifully done with huge screens surrounding the whole room so everyone could see. I could have bawled but managed to keep it to a few tears just in the corner of my eyes. The great plays, the great HR’s, walk-offs, and of course, playing the Yankees in the playoffs. Guests could write questions on a card and some of them were answered by the guys. Brandon got a standing 0 by about half the room and lots of cheers for Alex, Benoit, and Delmon. Delmon is very comfortable speaking in public and they asked him about having experience in the playoffs. He said Gardenhire always stressed winning at home and against your own division foes. It was great and lifted everyones’s spirits. The weather has just been brutal the last couple days and I made it home just before the snow started falling again. Go Tigers!!!!!!!

That’s a nice report, Kathy, thanks. So I guess Brandon got a standing O from half the room while the other half muttered under their breath. :-) I think both his supporters and detractors will miss him when he’s gone.

Just wondering if signing “Da Meat Hook” to a minor league contract is a crazy idea?

What does the signing of Brad Eldred mean for Ryan Strieby? Apparently Eldred is expected to play at Toledo. The Tigers and the Hens have need for another RHB slugging 1st sacker??

There has been more talk about a possible 1 year deal for Prince. If he is agreeable , a 1 year deal for him would be good for the Tigers. Maybe extremely good.
I wouldn’t rule it out.
Glad we didn’t jump all over the Pena bandwagon. This is a team that does not need more strikeouts in the lineup.

For a one-year deal, the Tigers should jump at Prince Fielder. The problem is, so would a lot of other clubs under that scenario, especially AL clubs. I still think Prince is headed for Washington. With the coninuing disintegration of the Redskins (I HATE that name), there is a “place in the fan’s hearts” for a new local team to lead the way.
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The news on Carlos Lee is interesting. The Astros may eat salary on a trade, but who would they want in return? Lee has no-trade rights, but he could play in the postseason here.
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Johnny Damon, but only as a leadoff hitter, JL. If we stay with Jackson up there, it’s just one more problem to deal with.

Expanding on Damon: he himself said that he takes a different approach between leading off or batting 2nd. The leadoff Damon is the guy who gets on base a lot and his stats continue to bear that out. The 2-hole Damon tries to advance the runner and so forth. The latter didn’t work for us in 2010. He would solve that leadoff problem for this season if allowed to.

When the Tigers signed Damon two years ago, plenty of people assumed he would bat leadoff. The fact that he hit second behind an unproven Austin Jackson said plenty about where they saw his fit in the order. He did bat first for 37 games in Tampa Bay, but he hit second for 68.

Is Juan pperre free agent? Good defender, creates havoc on the bases and just might hit .300.
My guess is they will stick with AJ and hope he has the perpetually problematic leg kick figured out.

I saw the JD rumours too. I hope not. He was a disappointment 2 years ago and is that much older. He was the reason we NEEDED VMart. To try in any way to offset the loss of Victor with a guy who is ready to end his career would be luckless I’m afraid.
In order to compensate for the impact of losing VMart we need to inject some defense, some speed and some flexibility in the lineup. A direct replacement is simply not available but they could take advantage of deficiencies that need to be addressed. That is why I mentioned Juan Pierre. Or a middle infielder with leadoff ability or a solid 3rd sacker.
BTW, Wandy Rodriguez is still available, though I must admit I am hopeful that we have our own home grown solution in the making.

Wow, there are Damon rumors flying now, aren’t there? Well, I’m standing by my opinion that he needs to lead off or we don’t need him at all. If you want some numbers, in 2011 he hit .294/.343/.431 at leadoff, and .230/.293/.399 in the 2-hole. It’s his approach to the two jobs. I don’t know offhand who Madden used at leadoff other than Damon. I’ll be real disappointed if he’s signed to hit second or lower in Detroit. In that case, I’d rather have one of the bigger boppers out there.
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Isn’t Juan Pierre a fairly poor leftfielder with a weak arm, or have I got that wrong?

I think he’s a pretty decent fielder but I would suspect he would have a below average arm.

He does have a below average arm. Not the guy I’d want to try and fix this problem.

Regarding JD, I Iiked him when he was here but his stats were a little disappointing. I think he would be a good clubhouse presence. Playoff experience, good base runner, knows how to play the game. Interesting to have a DH be a lead off hitter. How many of those in the MLB? But leading off would be his best fit. JD could play OF if needed. Santiago/Raburn second. Maybe BB?

We got a Prince!!!!!!!!!! Holy crap!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just got text message..

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