Results tagged ‘ Miguel Cabrera ’

Ausmus: V-Mart could catch in NL parks

Remember when Victor Martinez was trying on catching gear Thursday and said he was ready to do whatever the Tigers needed or asked? Well, turns out they had asked him about catching.

“I actually called Victor — this must have been January, right after New Year’s — and asked him about catching,” Brad Ausmus said. “He was thrilled about it. He was excited. I asked him if he wanted to come down with pitchers and catchers.

“There is a reason behind it. We play 10 games in National League parks and the first road trip of the season is L.A. and San Diego. We can’t not have Victor play for five straight games. This gives us another option. I wouldn’t want to just ask Victor the first week of the season, ‘Hey, get some catching gear. You might catch on the next road trip.’ So I told him, ‘Listen, I was hoping you would be open to the idea of catching a little bit.’ So when we get to LA and San Diego and we face a tough left-handed pitcher or maybe Alex Avila needs a day or something, whatever the case may be, we can stick Victor behind the plate possibly. Now, I don’t know if it will happen or won’t happen, but it gives us an option.”

Thus, Martinez was behind the plate Friday morning for the first round of bullpen sessions in Tigers camp. He caught Rick Porcello’s session with relative ease.

As mentioned Thursday, Martinez started three games at catcher last season, two of them against the Mets at Citi Field during Interleague Play in August. He was on a hitting tear, and with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder at the corners, the Tigers had nowhere else to put him. He didn’t catch at all that spring, not while he was working back into game shape with surgically repaired knees, but Jim Leyland acknowledged he could end up catching later in the year.

This year, Interleague Play comes much earlier. That plus Martinez’s health over the past year make a start or two in Spring Training a much more sensible option.

The Tigers face five more games in NL parks after that — three in Arizona July 21-23, then two in Pittsburgh Aug. 11-12.

Another option Ausmus confirmed is to play Miguel Cabrera at third for some of those games and move Martinez to first.

“It’s been talked about,” Ausmus said. “Again, there will be some things, we have to see how they play out, but it’s been discussed. I actually even mentioned it to Miggy. You know, Miggy is a team guy and he told me, ‘Listen, I still have two gloves. Whatever you need.’ So at the end of March, if you see Miggy play third for a game, you don’t have to immediately say that [Nick] Castellanos is in trouble or [Steve] Lombardozzi’s in trouble. It might be that we’re setting up to have options for these National League games where we want to keep our big bats in the lineup.”

Cabrera mentioned Wednesday that he brought his third-base glove with him.

Cabrera: Nothing happening yet on new contract

Miguel Cabrera has been in Lakeland all week, having reported early to get settled in and get in some early work. He also has been moving around without restriction after recovering from core muscle surgery. What he has not been doing is worrying about his next contract.

When asked if he has talked with his agents about a contract extension, Cabrera said there hasn’t been anything going on. He also said, though, that he isn’t worried about it right now. With two years left on his deal, he said, they have time. At some point, there will be more urgency than this, but not now.

The fact that Cabrera doesn’t seem overly concerned isn’t a bad thing for the Tigers, who have another contract situation they’re trying to handle with Max Scherzer entering his contract year. That doesn’t change the task trying to re-sign Cabrera, the back-to-back American League MVP and three-time reigning AL batting champion who turns 31 years old in April.

Cabrera named Tiger of the Year for a 4th time

While Miguel Cabrera waits to find out whether he’ll be the first back-to-back American League MVP since Frank Thomas two decades ago, he can take credit for one bit of awards history. He now has more Tiger of the Year awards than anyone in franchise history.

On Tuesday, the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America voted Cabrera as Tiger of the Year for the second season in a row and the fourth time overall. As much as Max Scherzer meant for Tigers fortunes during a 21-3 season that made him the AL Cy Young award favorite, he couldn’t match what Cabrera meant to the Tigers’ third consecutive division title run.

Cabrera received 17 out of 25 votes, with Scherzer taking the other eight, according to newspaper reports.

The win moved Cabrera out of a tie for most Tiger of the Year honors in the award’s history, dating back to 1965. He was part of a group of three-time winners that included Denny McLain (1966, 68-69), Alan Trammell (1980, 87-88) and Cecil Fielder (1990-92).

Cabrera also became the first repeat winner since fellow third baseman Travis Fryman in 1995-96, and broke a five-year string in which Cabrera and Justin Verlander had been alternating years as winners.

Cabrera didn’t repeat his Triple Crown from last year, but he actually bettered his numbers in most of his averages while posting home runs and RBIs at a better pace. His .348 batting average was a career high and easily a Major League best for this season, making him the first right-handed hitter since Rogers Hornsby in the 1920s to win three consecutive league batting titles.

Cabrera spent much of the season’s second half on pace for a historic .350 average, 40 homers and 150 RBIs before abdominal and groin injuries finally sapped his power over the final weeks of the season. As it was, he still matched last year’s total of 44 home runs to go with 137 RBIs, one off his 2012 total, despite playing in 13 fewer games and playing injured in several more.

Not since Todd Helton and Carlos Delgado in 2000 had a Major League hitter batted .340 or better with 35 homers and 140 RBIs in the same season.

Cabrera either scored or drove in 196 of Detroit’s 796 runs for the season. In other words, one out of every four Tigers runs went through Cabrera. It’s lower than the 28 percent share he claimed on Detroit’s offense in 2012, but it was nonetheless impressive.

Cabrera’s 7.2 Wins Above Replacement more than doubled that of the next-closest Tigers position player, according to the formula used by baseball-reference, and topped Scherzer by half a win.

Cabrera will be presented with a trophy from the BBWAA Detroit chapter to recognize the award prior to a game next season.

Cabrera undergoes core muscle repair surgery

That didn’t take long. Less than 48 hours after confirmation that Miguel Cabrera would need surgery, the Tigers announced that the AL MVP underwent successful core muscle repair surgery. Dr. William Meyers, the noted specialist in hernia surgery and other groin injuries, performed the procedure this morning in Philadelphia, where he is based.

The timetable calls for Cabrera to rehab for 6-8 weeks, which even at the conservative end should have him at full speed in time for the start of Spring Training.

The home page for Dr. Meyers says that core muscle injuries are often described as a sports hernia, which is technically not a hernia. There was a lot of speculation that Cabrera was playing through a sports hernia during September and into the postseason, based on his symptoms and how little mobility he had. Cabrera’s injury has been described as a Grade 2-3 groin strain, including tears of fiber, just short of a rupture. The press release is all that’s going to be said by the team about the injury, so we’ll have to leave it at that.

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.

Game 91: When Cabrera made more history

Before the benches and bullpens emptied, before Jim Leyland made the decision to stick with Anibal Sanchez for the sixth inning, just before Prince Fielder took a pitch up and in from Chris Sale, Miguel Cabrera did it again.

With one swing off what wasn’t a bad 3-2 pitch from Sale, Cabrera reached the 30-homer mark, which is historic in Tigers lore and would be pacesetting for the league this year if not for Chris Davis’ amazing pace. Add in Cabrera’s RBI total, now at 94, and the combination is unprecedented.

No one in Major League history had the combination of 30 home runs and 90 RBIs by the All-Star break until Cabrera hit his 30th homer Thursday. However, there’s a catch to that. Jimmie Foxx had 30 homers and 93 RBIs by the 80-game mark in 1932, the year before the first All-Star Game. He ended up with 58 homers and 169 RBIs that year.

Cabrera is the 35th player to reach the 30-homer mark by the All-Star break since 1933. The previous high RBI total for that group was 87, matched by four players (Albert Pujols in 2009, David Ortiz in 2006, Mark McGwire in 1998 and Willie Stargell in 1971). 

Two previous players to top the 90-RBI mark by the break had 29 home runs to go with it. Tony Perez and George Foster each had 29 homers and 90 RBIs at the break with the 1970 and 1977 Reds, respectively.

Cabrera, meanwhile, has three games left and six RBIs to go to try to become the third player ever hit the century mark by the break. His 95th RBI will tie him with Josh Hamilton (2008 Rangers) for fifth on the list.

Cabrera won’t play tonight

In all the hubbub over Max Scherzer’s 13-0 start and Colby Rasmus’ slide on Omar Infante, this kind of got overlooked. Now that everyone has calmed down, I’m giving you a heads-up now: Miguel Cabrera won’t start tonight.

Jim Leyland made the announcement after the game Wednesday night, after he subbed him out in the ninth inning for the second consecutive game with tightness in his back.

“I think it probably tightened up on him,” Leyland said. “Like I said, I don’t know how it happens like it does, but it does seem to happen. We’ve been on turf now for six straight days. Guys aren’t used to that. I think there’s probably something to that. You’re on the dirt, and then on the turf, and you’re running the bases on the dirt and then you hit the turf. I don’t really have an answer for it other than the back’s bothering him and I’m not going to play him tomorrow.”

Cabrera didn’t say a whole lot after the game. He suggested his back felt OK, but that’s not really a surprise from him.

Cabrera has missed one game in each of the last two seasons. He last sat out a game last Aug. 26 against the Angels, a game the Tigers actually won, 5-2, when Max Scherzer outpitched Ervin Santana. Jeff Baker started at third that day.

The Tigers won the one game Cabrera missed in 2011, too. That day, he was on paternity leave to be with his wife for the birth of their child, and the Tigers called up Omir Santos to give Alex Avila a much-needed day off. Doug Fister pitched well and the Tigers won a getaway game at Tampa Bay.

Cabrera was also out of the starting lineup in two other games in 2011, but ended up making a pinch-hit appearance.

Don Kelly will start at third base tonight. The only other guy on the Tigers bench who can play third is Ramon Santiago, and he’ll be starting for the injured Infante.

Cabrera leaves with back stiffness, expects to play Wednesday

The Tigers will play just two series this regular season on artificial surface, but they’re playing them back-to-back on this trip. With that in mind, they had to figure seven consecutive games on the turf in Tampa Bay and Toronto might produce some aches and pains.

Miguel Cabrera, however, is the last player they could afford to have them. When he left in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 7-6 win over the Blue Jays with back stiffness, it raised concerns.

Cabrera, however, said after the game that he expects to be fine for Wednesday.

“Hopefully it’s not a big deal and I can come tomorrow, get treatment and get ready to play,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera said he felt some tightness in his back before the game, and his diving attempt on Emilio Bonifacio’s first-inning double exacerbated it on the Rogers Centre turf.

“I dove on my side and felt a little something,” he said. “I was tight, too, in batting practice. It was still sore in the game.”

It wasn’t a problem on his home-run swing in the next inning off a Chien-Ming Wang sinker, but it became more of an issue later in the game. An inside pitch from Neil Wagner that forced him to get out of the way in the eighth inning made it worse.

“When he tried to get out of the way of that pitch, it kind of bothered him a little bit, got it out of line a little bit,” manager Jim Leyland said.

That led to the rare move for Leyland: A defensive replacement for his everyday third baseman. He made a point when Cabrera moved to third base to never replace him late in games, noting how much pride Cabrera takes in his position. In this case, though, it was a health issue. Ramon Santiago took the field at third base for the ninth inning.

That pride from Cabrera might well have shown through when Leyland asked him after the game about his status.

“He said no rest tomorrow, he’ll be ready,” Leyland said, “but I’m going to play that one by ear.”

Cabrera leads all AL players in All-Star votes

Miguel Cabrera is finally getting the respect he deserves in All-Star balloting. He not only has lapped his competition at third base on the American League ballot, he currently leads all AL players in votes.

The first balloting update, released Monday, shows how much Cabrera’s Triple Crown season in 2012 and record-setting pace in 2013 have vaulted him among the game’s biggest stars. Cabrera has 1,500,165 votes, double that of Baltimore’s Manny Machado among AL third basemen and about 265,000 more than Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano for the AL’s top vote-getter.

Cabrera’s lone All-Star start in his career came in 2010 as an injury replacement for Justin Morneau at first base. He has six other All-Star appearances as a reserve, including the last two seasons as a Tiger.

The only other Tiger in line to start as of Monday’s balloting update is Torii Hunter, third among AL outfielders with 761,937 votes. He holds a slim leads over Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz, while looking up at Angels sensation Mike Trout and Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.

Prince Fielder is at serious risk of losing his starting spot at first base thanks to Chris Davis’ amazing start and a strong showing by Orioles fans at the ballot box. Though Fielder topped the million-vote mark already at 1,059,300, he trails Davis by just under 117,000 votes.

The potential snub could be at shortstop, where Jhonny Peralta’s hot start earned him just a third-place showing behind Texas’ Elvis Andrus and O’s counterpart J.J. Hardy. However, shortstop is shaping up to be one of the tightest races on the AL ballot this year, with about 187,000 votes separating Peralta from Andrus’ leading total.

Omar Infante’s quietly strong season has him ranked fourth among AL second basemen with 417,333 votes. Victor Martinez, despite his slow start, ranks fifth among designated hitters with 340,967 votes, about 675,000 behind Boston’s David Ortiz.

Monday’s notes: Tracking Cabrera’s moon shot

I watched this replay of Miguel Cabrera’s home run of Jonathan Papelbon several times. I saw the ball disappear somewhere around the left-field concourse. I still couldn’t figure out whether it left the ballpark, no matter how many times I watched.

Finally, as the Tigers and Phillies were wrapped up this 10-1 affair, I decided to head out to the concourse and try to figure it out myself. I’m not good at this. I have neither a tape measure nor a very good sense of distance. But I figured I’d give it a shot.

The left-field concourse at Bright House Networks Field has two tiki bars — a big one for Frenchy’s, the local bar and grill known for their grouper sandwiches, and a smaller one that just serves drinks. The home run seemingly headed over the smaller one.

The bartender there was very nice, and tried to explain it as best she could while trying to take care of customers. She knew about the home run I was asking about, and said it hit off the fence behind her bar, as shown in this picture.

springtraining 032

Beyond that fence, you can see there’s a drop. That’s pretty much where the ballpark ends. There’s a player parking lot behind there, but the ball reportedly did not land there. There was another report that the ball hit a refrigeration unit down there. But in an area with two tiki bars and no shortage of customers, I’m taking the word of the one who hasn’t had a drink.

springtraining 031The concourse looks to be about 50 feet wide, followed by another 50 feet to the fence. It’s 329 feet down the left-field line, but no other measurement between there and center field. Best guess is that it’s about 350 feet to the fence where he hit it. Add another 100 feet as explained above, and you have a (loosely, and perhaps conservatively) estimated 450-foot drive.

The picture on the right shows what the view looks like from just in front of that back fence, demonstrating how far back it is.

From what the bartender and the Philadelphia media said, it’s not rare to see a ball travel that far in that area. Home runs have landed in the player parking lot before, shattering windshields. One of those happened last spring. Most of those, though, were hit in batting practice. Cabrera did it in a game.

However, Cabrera did it in a spring training game, and spring training games don’t get official estimates. This was my best shot.

Other information, hopefully more accurate, from today in Tigers camp:

  • Drew Smyly felt very good about the few changeups he threw in his two innings of work. The mechanical adjustment pitching coach Jeff Jones made with him feels more like a natural pitch, he said. Before, he was trying to force the changeup as he released it.
  • Look for a feature on Nick Castellanos on the site tonight, but one of the interesting points he made was that he thinks he feels some of his success hitting left-handers comes from the fact that he grew up hitting pitches thrown by his father, a left-hander. Over the years, he developed an inside-out swing by trying to send the pitch back from the angle it came. Ironically, he roughed up right-handed pitching all day Monday after lefty Cliff Lee struck him out on a called third strike, but Lee does that a lot.
  • Leyland said he spent Sunday night going over potential rosters. It sounds like Ramon Santiago’s spot is safe, barring injury, as is Brayan Pena’s role as backup catcher. That leaves two spots left, at least one going to an extra outfielder, and at least some consideration for a right-handed hitter and a pinch-runner. You can see the opportunity there for Jeff Kobernus to take if he hits, and his leadoff single through the middle ahead of Castellanos’ home run in the fifth didn’t hurt.
  • Max Scherzer felt fine today, according to Leyland. He’ll throw one more live batting practice session before he’s cleared to start next Saturday in one of the Tigers’ split-squad games, likely at home against the Pirates.