Results tagged ‘ Miguel Cabrera ’

Wrapping up the Tigers’ injuries

You had a feeling, didn’t you, that whenever the Tigers’ season ended, you would be hearing a more up-front report on all the Tigers’ injuries. And for the most part, we got that last night. Yet somehow, it wasn’t as bad as expected.

Alex Avila opened up a bit about the shape of his knees.

“I’ve had tendinitis building up in my [left] knee since July from a sprain that I had,” Avila said. “I felt I could continue to play with it, and I did. Without the rest, it just gets a little bit worse. And then, when I stepped on [Robinson] Cano’s foot [in the Division Series], everything kind of resurfaced after that.”

Playing through that, he said, brought on problems in the other knee, the right knee, because he was compensating. He underwent a cortisone shot during the playoffs that helped.

Surprisingly, though, he said that the team medical staff doesn’t think there’s anything that would require surgery.

“If there was anything structurally wrong,” he said, “I probably wouldn’t be able to catch. That was the reason why I kept playing, that I knew it couldn’t get any worse. I just had to deal with discomfort. Just get the MRI to make sure, and with rest, I’ll be good as new.”

As for Victor Martinez, manager Jim Leyland said he had “three or four things going on,” from the knee sprain in August to the toe injury that had to be drained to the intercostal strain. The only one that would seemingly be a major concern going into the offseason would be the knee, though we didn’t get any definitive word on that.

The injury you didn’t expect that we learned about last night was Miguel Cabrera. He injured his right shoulder when he tried to run over Mike Napoli at home plate in Game 4.

“It was all muscle,” Cabrera said, alleviating any concern he popped his shoulder out. It might have been more around the triceps.

Obviously, it didn’t affect him at the plate, where he closed out his season last night with a two-homer game, but he said he couldn’t throw. That explained why his warmups between innings were different.

He’s going to get it checked out, just to be on the safe side.

“I have to talk to a doctor,” Cabrera said. “They took good care of me with treatment. They did a good job.”

Lamont: “Sometimes you need a little luck”

Tigers third-base coach Gene Lamont wants a World Series ring. He still has an opportunity to win it this year after they pulled out Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, and he tried to grab the bag that helped save that chance for him.

“I tried to get the base after the game,” Lamont said, “but it had a camera in it.”

Whether it had any luck left in it after the Tigers milked some out of it is unknown.

“Sometimes you need a little luck,” Lamont said with a smile. “Sometimes a lot of luck.”

Lamont makes his living at third base, even if he doesn’t make plays there. It’s his job to judge balls all over the field and decide whether that runner heading in from first or second has a chance to score on it. He has had an active and much-discussed series at that, from his decision to hold Ramon Santiago at third base in Game 2 as the potential winning run to his choice to send Miguel Cabrera on Delmon Young’s eighth-inning fly ball in Game 4.

All in all, Lamont has proven to be a pretty good judge, especially on balls headed past third base and into left field. But he had no way of anticipating what was going to happen once Miguel Cabrera’s ground ball in the sixth inning of a 2-2 game headed that way.

He saw Rangers Gold Glove third baseman Adrian Beltre playing the line and getting in front of the ball, behind the bag, ready to start a double play. He saw Beltre put his glove up at what ended up as thin air and look behind him in bewilderment.

He saw Ryan Raburn charging for third while the ball was still bouncing around the left-field corner, making his job easy — Raburn waved in, Tigers pulled ahead.

He still couldn’t quite believe it. He has seen plenty of balls hit the bag over his years coaching there, but very few react like that.

“It happens,” Lamont said, “not very often. Just lucky it hit kind of the front [of the bag] and skipped up. If it just hit on the top, he would’ve probably caught it.”

He figures the topspin helped determine the hop. To him, though, that was the first break. The second lucky bounce was the way the ball rolled into the corner, strong enough to get there yet not quickly enough for left fielder David Murphy to have a play at the plate.

“When it went down there, I could see it go into the corner and it kicked,” Lamont said. “It was slow. That’s what happens sometimes. This one took a long time to get there. That makes a difference.

“It was hit hard enough that it got down in the corner. It could’ve just stopped. If it had done that, he would’ve run straight for it.”

It took a little negotiation from higher powers. Eventually, manager Jim Leyland ended up with it.

“I have that bag in my office right now,” Leyland said. “And that will be in my memorabilia room at some point in my life, I can promise you.”

For now, it’s going to stay in the clubhouse.

“You know, it put us to Game 6,” Lamont said. “[It's] not for me, for the team. Between that and Victor [Martinez] hitting the triple standing on there, it’s quite a bag.”

Decisions loom large in approach to Cabrera

The good news for the Tigers, or the silver lining in their Game 4 loss, is that they finally have Miguel Cabrera back in the form where he’s arguably the most feared hitter in the league. The bad news for Detroit is that he didn’t get many chances to show it.

One chance vanished because of a daring move by Rangers manager Ron Washington. Another vanished by the Tigers’ own choice.

Out of 144 regular-season intentional walks for Cabrera’s career, only one came with the bases empty, that coming in 2007. But with one out in the eighth inning, Washington gave him one for his postseason career as well. After watching his Rangers relievers try and fail to pitch around him during this ALCS, Washington effectively took it out of their hands.

“We tried to pitch around Cabrera twice, and he got us,” Washington said. “So this time I wasn’t taking any chance. And it almost came back and bit me. But he’s the best baseball player out there. I mean, this guy can just do so much.”

It was Victor Martinez’s base hit that followed which almost brought Cabrera back to haunt them. But in the end, the injury-riddled lineup which Washington saw fit to face with Cabrera on base paid off for him once Delmon Young’s fly ball to medium depth right field set up Nelson Cruz to throw home and get Cabrera, who was sent home there rather than held for slumping Alex Avila.

The Tigers were effectively helpless there, though they could have pinch-hit for Young if they so chose and likely risked putting Don Kelly against lefty Darren Oliver. By contrast, the move that took the bat out of Cabrera’s hands in the 10th belonged to Austin Jackson.

It was his green light to try to steal after being hit by a pitch with one out, and he tried to take it. His manager defended him on it afterward.

“Absolutely,” Leyland said. I agreed with it 100 percent.”

But while it was an aggressive move, it’s hard to find the upside rewarding enough to make it the right move. If Jackson isn’t successful there, and he wasn’t, the Tigers risk  running themselves out of an inning. If he were successful, he would take away the double-play possibility for Ryan Raburn, but he’d almost surely take away an at-bat for Cabrera, who would’ve been intentionally walked with first base open. So while they would’ve had two at-bats with the winning run in scoring position, neither of them would’ve been with Cabrera at the plate.

Martinez, Young both in Tigers lineup

Victor Martinez woke up alive Wednesday morning, rolled out of the bed and rolled back into the Tigers lineup for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. So, apparently, did Delmon Young.

As a result, the Tigers are about as close to full strength in their lineup as they can be for what shapes up as a critical swing game in this series, which took a turn with Detroit’s win in Game 3 Tuesday night.

“It looks like Victor’s a go,” Leyland said Wednesday afternoon, “and Delmon [Young] is a question mark.”

At that point, Leyland was waiting for final word from the Tigers medical staff. Once he got it, Young was ruled in. The only change in his situation is that he’s batting fifth instead of third.

Martinez strained an intercostal muscle on his right side on his home-run swing in the fourth inning Tuesday night, which left him hobbling around the basepaths. He seemed on his way out of the lineup, having slammed his helmet and limped down the stairs into the training room as soon as he reached the dugout.

“The only way I don’t play [in Game 4],” Martinez said Tuesday night, “is if I wake up and I’m dead.”

Nobody seemed to doubt him.

“Victor Martinez is one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around,” Leyland said. “I’m talking about tough. I take my hat off, and Delmon Young the same. … Players on both teams are tough, and I think they’re showing that. And I think they’re showing why they’re who they are. Big time players, they expect to be in a lineup. They know the fans want to see them in the lineup. They know it helps their team.

Even with Young back, Miguel Cabrera is staying in the third spot, with Martinez batting cleanup. That seems to be an acknowledgement of Young’s limitations with his left abdominal strain. He had been batting third in front of Cabrera while he was healthy.

If Martinez couldn’t play, Leyland said, Young could have been an option at designated hitter. However, Leyland said he wasn’t willing to do that Tuesday night when it appeared Martinez might have to leave the game. Wilson Betemit had a bat in his hands in the Tigers dugout, and would have hit for Martinez if he couldn’t go.

“You really have to sit down and think about if the guy wants to play,” Leyland said. “I appreciate that, but if his effectiveness is not good because of this, just to put him in there, maybe you’re not always doing the right thing. So that’s a little bit of a tough situation.”

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Ryan Raburn, RF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. Delmon Young, LF
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  8. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B

P: Rick Porcello

YANKEES

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Elvis Andrus, SS
  3. Josh Hamilton, CF
  4. Michael Young, 1B
  5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  6. Mike Napoli, C
  7. Nelson Cruz, RF
  8. David Murphy, LF
  9. Yorvit Torrealba, DH

P: Matt Harrison

Cabrera takes lead in AL batting race

Miguel Cabrera went into the weekend at least seven points behind Adrian Gonzalez in the American League batting race, and talking about how happy he’d be to see his old Marlins minor league teammate Adrian Gonzalez win the crown. He wasn’t even second at that point; Michael Young owned that honor.

As he came out of the weekend, Cabrera now has a three-point lead over Young and Gonzalez with three games to go against a team he has hit well this year. Put the matchups together, he’s potentially on the doorstep of becoming the second Tigers batting champ in five years, joining Magglio Ordonez with the honor.

Three days flipped the race. Cabrera went 8-for-12 in the last three games against Baltimore, raising his average from .333 to .341. Gonzalez, meanwhile, went 2-for-12, including 1-for-8 in Boston’s day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium Sunday. His average fell modestly from .340 to .338, but it was enough to give Cabrera a few points of breathing room. Young went 4-for-7 against the Mariners before getting Sunday off. He bumped his average up a few points.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Gonzalez has one more charge left in the race. As Cabrera points out, Gonzalez has a wild card race to play for, and a Red Sox offense to ignite after a week they’d like to forget. He’s batting .500 (31-for-62) with eight doubles this season against the Orioles, who finished out their season against the BoSox the next few days. He went 10-for-16 against them last week at Fenway Park, which allowed him to charge into the batting lead in the first place by bumping his average from .333 to .341. He 11-for-27 (.407) at Camden Yards this year.

Young, meanwhile, gets three games at Angel Stadium, where he’s batting .500 (14-for-28) this year.

The one big difference is that Cabrera has been the hottest hitter in baseball over the last month. Nobody’s batting batter over the last 30 days than Cabrera’s .427 clip or 1.280 OPS. He went from batting in the .3-teens in mid-August to more than 20 points higher, and he has just six hitless games all month.

His Sunday performance included a first-inning home run, a big two-out single that extended the fifth inning for Victor Martinez’s go-ahead three-run homer and a hard-hit line drive in his final at-bat. He left after that with dizziness, something manager Jim Leyland said teammates brought to his attention, but word from the clubhouse after the game was that it isn’t anything serious. He should be available Monday.

If he can keep on hitting, he’ll have pulled off a career Triple Crown with three league titles in four years as a Tiger. He led the AL in home runs his first season in Detroit in 2008, had an stellar year in 2009, then led the league in RBIs last year. It counts as a Triple Crown only if you do that all in the same year, but doing it this way still puts him in the company of Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.

Wednesday: The non-Cabrera lineup

Cabrera, as scheduled, is getting the day off. He’ll get in his pregame work, and Leyland said he won’t hesitate to use him as a pinch-hitter if there’s a chance to win the game, but he’s out of the lineup. The result: Victor Martinez moves up to cleanup, Alex Avila bats fifth and Jhonny Peralta bats sixth. Don Kelly plays first base in what his becoming his usual second spot. Wilson Betemit isn’t ready yet, so Brandon Inge gets the start at third.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Don Kelly, 1B
  3. Delmon Young, LF
  4. Victor Martinez, DH
  5. Alex Avila, C
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  7. Andy Dirks, RF
  8. Ramon Santiago, 2B
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B

P: Max Scherzer/Doug Fister

ROYALS

  1. Alex Gordon, LF
  2. Melky Cabrera, CF
  3. Billy Butler, DH
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B
  5. Jeff Francoeur, RF
  6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
  7. Johnny Giavotella, 2B
  8. Salvador Perez, C
  9. Alcides Escobar, SS

P: Felipe Paulino

Cabrera quietly watches his team celebrate

To get an idea what this division title means for Miguel Cabrera, it’s best to think back to two years ago.

When the Tigers lost the tiebreaker that year, Cabrera sat in the clubhouse, his back hunched over, and cried openly. He felt like he had cost the team the division, a feeling more rooted in emotion than in fact. It took a bevy of teammates to console him.

As the Tigers celebrated Friday night, spraying champagne around the plastic-wrapped front half of the visiting clubhouse at Oakland Coliseum, Cabrera sat away from the crowd on the opposite side, watching it all as he puffed on a cigar and drank from a bottle of water. He had a look of pure contentment. He didn’t partake in the champagne, obviously, but he wasn’t partying regardless. He was soaking it all in.

“I have four years right now in Detroit,” he said. “Finally, we win the division. We’re here for this, man, to win. You have to give a lot of thanks to our owner, to our general manager. They put a lot of great guys here together. We finally made it, man.”

Just hours earlier, manager Jim Leyland said Cabrera was playing these days with more energy than he’s had all year. Cabrera didn’t argue. It’s the chance at the playoffs, he said, that brought it out of him. He hadn’t been to the postseason since he was a 20-year-old rookie with the 2003 Marlins. He badly wanted to get back, and he played like it.

When Cabrera caught Brandon Inge’s throw across the infield to retire Jose Willingham for the game’s final out Friday night, everyone was waiting to see how Jose Valverde would celebrate a title. Cabrera quietly made a sign and pointed to the sky to thank god.

“I feel great, man. I feel great. I’m happy,” Cabrera said. “We’re here for the fans, for the owner, for the general manager, for our manager. It feels awesome. It feels awesome we come through for our owner. We have a long way to go right now. We have to just keep playing hard. We have to keep winning and try to be ready for the playoffs.”

He was one of several already thinking to the playoffs. Justin Verlander was another. But he was one of many whose sustained intensity in September helped the Tigers get to this piont, clinching so soon.

Still, once they got here, he let everyone else act crazy. He just sat back and watched.

“We have a long way to go,” he said. “We know we have a good team. We battled all year. We know we can win the division, and we did it. We always play hard. It feels awesome, man.”

Cabrera update: Mild right soreness, should be fine for Friday

What initially looked like an All-Star panic for Tigers fans turned out to be a precautionary exit from the Midsummer Classic for slugger Miguel Cabrera, who left Tuesday’s 5-1 National League win with mild soreness in his right side.

“It’s nothing big,” Cabrera said as he left Chase Field. “I’m going to take care of myself and get ready for Friday.”

Cabrera had entered the game for the bottom of the fifth inning as a defensive replacement for starter Adrian Gonzalez. He grounded out to second base in his lone at-bat, ending the top of the sixth inning against former Tiger Jair Jurrjens. He felt the soreness during that at-bat on a checked swing, he said.

Cabrera pointed along his right side, near the oblique area, when asked where the pain was.

He came back out for the next inning at first base, but still didn’t feel right. Once the American League All-Stars took the field for the bottom of the seventh, Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer replaced him at first.

Had it been a regular-season game, Cabrera said, he probably wouldn’t have come out.

“No, no, I don’t think so,” he said. “But the first thing is to keep safe today. You don’t want to come back hurt to the organization. You have to be smart in this situation. It’s why I told them I’m hurt right now. I felt something a little bit, so I want to make sure it’s ok.”

Any injury to Cabrera is obviously a serious concern to the Tigers, who enter the season’s second half with a half-game lead over Cleveland in the American League Central. He took a .980 OPS, 18 home runs and 59 RBIs into the All-Star break, all tops on the Tigers. His .311 batting average ranked second to fellow All-Star Jhonny Peralta.

Cabrera has played in each of the Tigers’ 92 games, starting all but one of them. He expects to be back in the starting lineup when the Tigers begin the second half to their season Friday night against the White Sox at Comerica Park.

“I expect to play,” Cabrera said. “Hopefully I take care of it tomorrow and the next day and be ready to play.”

Four Tigers All-Stars, possibly another

Alex Avila’s campaign for All-Star votes, as led by teammate Justin Verlander, paid off in the end. In his first year as the Tigers’ everyday catcher, he’ll be starting behind the plate for the American League in the All-Star Game.

His starting nod highlights four All-Stars for the Tigers, the second time in three years they’ve had that total. Miguel Cabrera, Jose Valverde and Justin Verlander will join Avila in Phoenix for the Midsummer Classic July 12.

Victor Martinez will have the chance to join them if he can win the All-Star Game Final Vote. Balloting for that began today at MLB.com and runs through Thursday.

For all but one of them, it’s a return to the All-Star Game. For Avila, the first time might well be the sweetest. He becomes the first Tiger voted by fans into the All-Star lineup since 2007, when Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez and Placido Polanco all made it. Miguel Cabrera started last year’s game at first base, but did so after Justin Morneau was scratched due to injury.

Avila led all American League catchers in almost every major offensive category, short of home runs. Still, Russell Martin’s hot opening month as a New York Yankee earned him a slew of early votes once fan balloting began in April and May.

The Tigers soon picked up Avila’s cause. Then came Verlander, whose work with Avila as his catcher has resulted in a no-hitter and several close calls already this year. Verlander took to Twitter and just about any other medium he could find to try to encourage fans to vote Avila.

Avila slowly began catching up Martin, but still trailed by more than 400,000 votes as of the last balloting update earlier this week. But Avila garnered the vast majority of the votes at catcher this week before online balloting closed Thursday night.

“Thanks to all the non-Tigers fans who chose the best player,” Verlander wrote Sunday afternoon on his Twitter account. “To all the Tigers fans, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Best city, best fans.”

Verlander likely won’t get the chance to catch him in the game itself. Though he was an obvious choice for players to vote onto the AL pitching staff, he won’t be eligible to pitch in the Midsummer Classic if he starts for the Tigers at Kansas City next Sunday to close out the season’s first half, as he’s scheduled to do.

With an 11-3 record, 2.32 ERA and just 88 hits over 135 2/3 innings, he would’ve been a strong candidate to start in the game. Still, he’ll be recognized with his third straight All-Star selection, and his fourth overall.

Cabrera makes the All-Star team for the sixth time, the second time as a Tiger. His .329 average entering Sunday ranked third in the AL to go with 17 homers and 56 RBIs. Valverde, 19-for-19 in save chances entering Sunday, is a three-time All-Star.

Verlander, Valverde and Cabrera were all All-Stars last season. It’s the first time three Tigers earned back-to-back All-Star selections since 1985 and ’86, when Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish and Willie Hernandez made the teams.

Wednesday: Tigers at Twins

It’s an overcast morning in the Twin Cities, but as of an hour before gametime, the rain is holding off. It doesn’t sound like that’ll be the case all day, with scattered showers and thunderstorms expected this afternoon. In fact, the radar shows rain literally surrounding the area, with a hole right over Minneapolis.

Jim Leyland said last night he wanted to check on Miguel Cabrera, who has played every game this season and has been dealing with a sore back (insert puns about carrying weight of offense here). He checked again this morning, and Cabrera said he feels fine and wants to play. Thus, he’s back in the cleanup spot and playing first base today.

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Scott Sizemore, 2B
  3. Brennan Boesch, RF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Ryan Raburn, LF
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Ramon Santiago, SS
  9. Brandon Inge, 3B
P: Phil Coke
.
TWINS
  1. Denard Span, CF
  2. Luke Hughes, 2B
  3. Jason Kubel, DH
  4. Justin Morneau, 1B
  5. Danny Valencia, 3B
  6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
  7. Rene Tosoni, LF
  8. Rene Rivera, C
  9. Matt Tolbert, SS
P: Scott Baker
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 24,042 other followers