Cabrera: “I take the heat. … What am I going to do?”
Jim Leyland was relatively quiet on the Miguel Cabrera situation before Friday’s game, other than to say he’s not totally healthy and that the right ankle that limited him to DH for a stretch last weekend is clearly still bothering him. He didn’t want to wade into the mire about Cabrera seemingly slowing up on his way to first base on Thursday’s game-ending double play.
After Friday’s game, the question came up again, and he jumped in. So did Cabrera.
“Exactly what happened was, that ball that he hit was real close to the bag,” Leyland said of the double play. “It was probably [looking like] a routine [play], because there were guys on first and second. That was his first reaction, when it was hit. The foot’s hurting, then he realized what was going on and he tried to get after it.
“He wasn’t dogging it, contrary to what people want to make of it. I think it was so close to the bag, it looked like a simple boom-boom [play]. When you try to accelerate on something like that, it’s hard coming out of that box to accelerate. Watch him run right now. It’s hard. Even when he deked the guy, the center fielder [Friday], it wasn’t like he was burning up the basepaths. I defend him 100 percent in that situation.”
Cabrera didn’t offer a self-defense so much as he said it’s a criticism he’s going to have to take.
“Always, people are going to be saying negative things,” Cabrera said. “They say yesterday I’ve got to run hard to first, so that’s something I have to take to go out there and do what I can. I can’t control that. If people want to talk about that, say that, what am I going to do? You have to take it.”
He did, however, admit that his ankle is seriously bothering him.
“When you play hurt, people aren’t going to see that,” he said. “People are always going to talk negative things. If they say I’ve got to run hard to first base right there, I have to take it. Nobody tells me to go out there and play hurt.”
No, they don’t, but it’s going to be up to Leyland to take him out of the lineup, or off of the field, if he feels like Cabrera’s making the ankle worse by playing or if he’s becoming less and less productive. And after two errors on Friday, plus a few other instances where the ankle was clearly bothering him, Leyland said he was going to sleep on the idea whether he should put Cabrera in at DH on Saturday.
The Tigers face left-handed pitchers the next couple nights with Francisco Liriano and Chris Sale, so they could put Delmon Young in left field and only cost themselves a left-handed hitter. They’d still have to figure out what to do at third base, a spot that could go to Danny Worth if he’s a September call-up as expected.