Cabrera: We play hard, but we have to play better
One prominent presence on this team that has been a relatively quiet voice belongs to Miguel Cabrera, who has largely kept out of interviews since the All-Star break while he and his team have tried to get going. With the struggles continuing Sunday with a loss to Seattle, Cabrera spoke with a small group of reporters.
His message was largely a push to action. Like several others on the team, he pointed out that the effort is there. It’s not a matter of playing hard, he said. It’s a matter of playing well, and they’re going to have several chances to play well against teams that will make a difference.
“Some days we play good defense and then we don’t hit. Some days we hit good and don’t play good defense,” he said. “If we want to win, we have to stick together, play defense, hit and pitch at the same time. I think we still have a good shot because we still have a lot of games against Kansas City and Cleveland, against our division. When we play against our division, we play good.
“What we can do is go out there and play hard. People see we play hard. We play hard, but I think we have to do better. That’s what I want to say. I say we have to play better.”
Once the Tigers play three games this coming week at Tampa Bay, they’ll have just six games left outside of their division, all at home. They’ll host the Yankees for a quick three-game homestand Aug. 26-28, then welcome the Giants for three games Sept. 5-7. They’ll have six games against the Royals in September, and seven against Cleveland.
“If we want to win the division, if we’re going to be in the playoffs, we have to play better,” he said. “We have to win series. We have to step up and do our jobs. Do our jobs and I think we’re going to be OK.”
Asked if they’re feeling the pressure of a division race, he agreed.
“That’s why you see when we have men in scoring position, we swing at a bad pitch, because we want to make something happen,” he said. “When you say it’s a lot of pressure, yes, it’s a lot of pressure because two or three weeks [ago] we lead the division by six, seven games. Right now we’re behind. But you know what, we’re a good team. We’re going to come from behind and we’re going to get the lead again. But what we have to control is go out there and play better, play hard, make something happen.”
That includes himself. And not surprisingly, he didn’t want to get into his health. His non-answer, however, didn’t deny that he’s dealing with issues.
“You guys know me for seven years. I don’t like to talk about my injuries or whatever I’ve got in my body right now,” he said. “The only thing I can say is I’m going to be out there every day and try to play hard. It doesn’t matter what I have. I try to play my best. Hopefully I can do my job and hopefully I can help my team to win more games and hopefully we can win the division.”
When asked about his swing, he said he feels better about it, and he’ll feel better if he can hit for more home runs. But he also acknowledged that in trying to swing big, he has gotten out of his strike zone, something he’s trying to reverse.
“I try to expand my zone. I try to make something happen. That’s a big mistake you can do as a hitter,” he said. “So right now, I have to feel more comfortable with what I’m doing at home plate and try to shorten my strike zone and try to swing at strikes.”
When asked about the fan reception lately, he admitted it can be a tough when people expect them to run away with the division and they haven’t. But he also stated the obvious: If you win, everything’s good.
“Detroit is a sports city. They come every day to support us and when we don’t do our job, they express it, they boo us,” he said. “I’ve been playing in Detroit for seven years and seen this or that, but we’ve got to control that. We have to get out there and play better and win games. If we win games, they’re going to be OK. …
“They don’t like the way we play right now. I understand that because we don’t play good right now. Like I said before, we have to do our jobs. We have to go out there and play better, play good defense, hit and pitch. We have great starters, great pitchers and offense. We have to get together. … We need everybody here on our team to do everything we can do best to do our job. I think if we control that, the fans are going to be happy.”