Will Miguel Cabrera play on Wednesday? Don’t tweet Leyland
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said his decision to sit Miguel Cabrera after five innings was improvised. His call on whether and how long to play Cabrera in Wednesday’s regular-season finale is going to be planned out. Eventually. By somebody.
Leyland said he has not decided on that yet, but he also suggested he’ll defer to Cabrera’s wishes.
“There won’t be any debate if he wants to play,” Leyland said. “If he wants to play, he’ll play.”
When that comment got to Cabrera, he said he’ll defer to Leyland and what he wants him to do.
“He’s the manager,” Cabrera said, “and I respect his decisions. I respect whatever decision he’s going to make tomorrow. I’m good with that.”
Leyland’s decision has little to do with the Triple Crown, though it’s going to have to factor in whether he wants it to or not. His concern is more about keeping players healthy and getting them ready for the AL Division Series this weekend.
Cabrera has played all but one game this season. When he didn’t play, it was a huge deal because the Tigers were in the middle of a division race. If he doesn’t play Wednesday, it’ll be a big deal for altogether different reasons.
The realization was evident in Leyland quotes that the batting race is going to make this a huge decision.
“He’s got 600-some plate appearances and the kid’s leading the league by whatever he’s leading it by,” Cabrera said. “I have no idea what Trout’s doing. I’m not going to get into all that stuff. It’s just not worth it. We’re trying to get ready for a playoff, so you might as well make up your mind as a manager that some people are going to think you do the right thing, some people are going to think you do the wrong thing. I think he’s proven himself enough that no matter what I do tomorrow, I think he’ll be OK.”
That sounds like a manager who is setting up his option to sit Cabrera. But then comes this quote from Cabrera:
“I play 160 games, so one more I think isn’t going to affect me,” Cabrera said. “I’ll be ready tomorrow. It’s our goal to try to be ready to play every day, to go out there and have fun.”
The middle ground might be exactly what happened today: Play Cabrera for three at-bats, then get him out of the game. It would let him play, and it would give him a chance to receive a standing ovation on his way off the field.
“If I check my email and my little twitter, which I have neither one of, I’m sure I’ll have all kinds of suggestions on exactly how many at-bats he can have and still win it,” Leyland said. “I’m sure I’ll have all the information I need.”
Mike Trout, who went 1-for-4 to finish Tuesday at .324 (Cabrera’s at .331), will play an hour and a half earlier than Tigers-Royals. That’s likely too close to game time to be a factor in Leyland’s thinking, or Cabrera’s. Josh Hamilton, one home run behind Cabrera, has what amounts to a deciding game in the AL West race between the Rangers and A’s earlier in the day. That game should be over by the time the Tigers and Royals get started.