Cabrera returns to Tigers lineup
Miguel Cabrera walked into the Tigers clubhouse after a workout Saturday afternoon, looked around, saw the throng of reporters waiting and joked around.
“No lineup yet,” he asked in mock frustration.
He then walked into manager Jim Leyland’s office and gave him the answer the Tigers and the city had been waiting to hear. He’s ready to play.
With that, Cabrera was back in his usual third spot in the Tigers batting order, starting at third base. He’s not at full strength, more like about 70 percent by his estimation, but he’s good enough to play. And as Cabrera has demonstrated over the years, when he’s healthy enough to play, he plays.
As Cabrera has also shown, his 70 percent is better than a lot of players at full strength.
Cabrera missed the previous four games after leaving Monday’s series opener against the White Sox with what was classified a sore left hip flexor. On Saturday, Cabrera said it was more of a left abdominal injury, different than the hip and back issues he had been dealing with off and on for the past month or so.
Cabrera said he tweaked it running the bases Monday. He’s still limited in his running, but he feels fine doing everything else.
“It was good hitting, fielding,” Cabrera said after his workout Saturday. “It bothered me running.”
He’s hoping that a few days back in the lineup, plus off-days in the schedule next Monday and Thursday, get him close to full strength. He does not believe it’ll be an injury that bothers him the rest of the year.
After more than a month of dealing with various aches and pains, he’s hoping to get to some sort of injury-free play for the stretch run.
“It’s hard,” he admitted. “You try, but it’s hard.”
Cabrera returns to action still leading the league with a .358 batting average, 23 points above anyone else in the Majors entering play Saturday. He lost his RBI lead to Baltimore’s Chris Davis earlier in the week, but trails him by only one with 96 RBIs. Cabrera’s 31 home runs still have him six behind Davis.
From a purely statistical standpoint, it’s a better season than last year for Cabrera. He just didn’t have a season like Davis’ challenging him last year.
If he doesn’t win the Triple Crown, he could end up with a historic third consecutive batting as a consolation. He’d be just the eighth hitter in Major League history to do it and the first since Tony Gwynn won four in a row from 1994-97. No right-handed hitter has won three straight batting crowns since Rogers Hornsby dominated the National League from 1920-25.