LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Now that Venezuela is out of the World Baseball Classic, Miguel Cabrera is focused on helping the Detroit Tigers get back to the World Series.
He’s off to a good start.
Cabrera hit a long home run on the first pitch he saw since returning from the WBC, leading Detroit to an 11-0 rout of Division II power Florida Southern on Wednesday.
“It was a good experience but I wish I could have done better for my country,” Cabrera said. “I did my best but now it’s time to get back.”
The Triple Crown winner homered in his only at-bat. Tigers manager Jim Leyland played his regular starting lineup for one at-bat before turning it over to the minor leaguers.
Cabrera batted .333 with a homer for Venezuela in the WBC, but said he’s just happy to be back in camp. Cabrera said that he isn’t letting down after facing serious pitching at the WBC.
Cabrera may have seen better pitching at the WBC than he will for the rest of spring training, but he said it was a good experience despite Venezuela’s early elimination.
“It’s a tough place to play,” Cabrera said of the WBC. “Everyone is playing like it is the playoffs. It is pretty intense.”
After winning the AL MVP with a .330 average to go with 44 homers and 139 RBIs, Cabrera said he plans to spend the next two weeks working on his swing. He still doesn’t feel ready for opening day.
“I want to be ready,” Cabrera said. I still have a lot of stuff to work on right now.”
Leyland said Cabrera won’t get special treatment despite playing at a higher level the past two weeks. Cabrera is taking the 3-hour bus ride on Thursday morning to Port St. Lucie to face the New York Mets.
Anibal Sanchez, who started one game for Venezuela at the WBC and lasted only 1-3 of an inning while allowing three runs, struck out six in four hitless innings for Detroit. The Tigers staff struck out 16 and allowed just two hits.
Max Scherzer started for the Tigers and pitched four scoreless innings, striking out seven. He hasn’t allowed a run in 8 2-3 innings this spring.
Torii Hunter also homered for Detroit and Steven Moya went 3-for-3 for the Tigers.
NOTES: OF Brennan Boesch, who batted .240 with 12 homers and 54 RBI for the Tigers last year, was given his unconditional release. He’d been struggling with an oblique injury all spring and was part of a three-man competition for the left field position with Quintin Berry and Andy Dirks. All three are left-handed hitters. . Doug Fister will start against the Mets on Thursday against Dillon Gee. . The game marked the 27th time the Tigers have hosted Florida Southern, which has its campus about five miles from the Tigers spring stadium. Detroit leads the series, 24-1-2.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)