Jim Leyland doesn’t want to put the cart before the horse, but he does want to get the horse ready for the race.
Which is why part of Miguel Cabrera’s “day off” consisted of dusting the cobwebs off his infielder glove and taking a lot of grounders at third base Wednesday.
Third base — one of the positions he played upon first coming to the majors.
Third base, a position at which he made five errors at in 14 games when Detroit obtained him from Florida for 2008. After which Leyland switched him to first.
Of course the reason is preparation for “The Thing Which Cannot Be Spoken Of” — the World Series.
Cabrera entered as a pinch hitter Wednesday and hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning, leading the Tigers to a 6-3 win over the Royals.
Leyland wouldn’t say Cabrera’s third base workout was a contingency move for the World Series, which is two playoff rounds away.
“We just feel that you have to prepare for everything,” Leyland said. “That’s what you have to do as an organization, get yourself ready for all possibilities. That’s all I’m saying.
“You prepare for every single thing you can.”
The World Series will open in a National League park. If it goes seven games, four would be in an NL park, where Detroit would not be allowed to use a designated hitter.
That means Leyland has to get creative if he wants to keep Victor Martinez in his batting order.
Because of Martinez’s early-August knee sprain, Leyland doesn’t want to risk putting Martinez behind the plate and chancing Alex Avila at third, as he did for one interleague game at Dodger Stadium.
That leaves first base as the only other position Martinez has played. Cabrera played the outfield some when he first came up with Florida but was soon moved to third. However, as he got bigger, the position became more difficult. He made 23 errors at third in his last year with the Marlins, 2007.
Putting Cabrera in left field would remove Delmon Young. Trying him in right would eliminate the shuffling of Magglio Ordonez, Ryan Raburn, Andy Dirks and Don Kelly.
Without Martinez, Cabrera could get walked in virtually every at-bat.
So if Detroit makes the World Series, get ready for a 250-pound third baseman named Cabrera.
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