February 18th, 2012

Cabrera arrives at Tigers camp

As expected, Miguel Cabrera was an early arrival to Tigers camp. We just figured it would be early on the calendar, not on the clock.

Yet as the fog was just starting to lift around Lakeland before 9 a.m. ET, Cabrera was already in his workout gear and hitting in the batting cages. He wasted no time getting to work, and he didn’t waste much time brushing off questions about his weight.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked about his weight program. “My goal is to be ready for the season. Whatever weight I [am at], I have to be in the best shape every year to go out there and don’t be hurt. I’m trying to be in my best shape and trying to be 100 percent the first day of the season.”

Cabrera looked notably slimmer compared with last year, but he couldn’t put a number on it. Manager Jim Leyland said Thursday he felt that 255 pounds would be a good weight for him, and a source close to Cabrera suggested that would be his weight.

To Cabrera, the scrutiny has gotten repetitive.

“It’s the question they ask me every year,” he said. “I think that’s been an issue my whole career. Everybody complained about my weight every year. It’s the same thing this year. Everybody’s talking the same thing about my weight, and he’s overweight, he’s this, he’s this. It’s nothing new. It’s been a complaint almost my whole career. Every year they say I’m overweight. It’s the same thing this year.”

That said, Cabrera added that he thinks losing weight will be good for him in the long run. He sounded very much like someone transitioning for the next stage of his career as he approaches age 30 next year.

“I think that’s a very positive thing to happen right now in my career,” he said, “because it’s going to help me a lot to lose more. It’s going to help me a lot to get in my best shape. It’s going to help me to play long in baseball.”

For what it’s worth, his neighbor in the Tigers’ spring training clubhouse gave him a vote of confidence. Jhonny Peralta saw him settle in, turned to reporters and said, “He’s ready.”

Leyland was in his office when Cabrera arrived.

“He looks great,” said Leyland, who added that he seems “real upbeat.”

Leyland said he felt like Cabrera is “on a mission to show he can play third base.”

Cabrera, however, downplayed that in favor of the team aspect.

“I want to win some games,” he said. “I’ll go over there and do my best and do my best to help the pitchers get some outs and try to get some wins. That’s what I’m going to do. I don’t want to try to show everybody I can play third base because, why? What’s the reason? There’s no reason to hear all the negative things they say about me playing third base.”

He did indicate, though, that moving back to third will be a challenge.

“It’s going to be hard,” he said. “Nobody said it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be hard playing back over there. But when you’re motivated and you have your team to support you and you’ve got the support of your manager and all your team, you feel like you’re going to do it, you can do it and play your best baseball.”