By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Out of the lineup for the fourth straight game, the status of Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera is still described as day-to-day.
“The thing is to get him playable,” Tigers head trainer Kevin Rand said. “We’re looking to get him where he feels comfortable playing, where he feels like he can go out and play.
“In Chicago the other night, he went to the dugout, he went to the dugout with his glove and his spikes,” Rand added. “He’s a guy that wants to play. Make no mistake about it. So if Miguel Cabrera tells me, ‘I need another day,’ then you know what? He probably needs another day.”
Cabrera left the game Monday in the bottom of the fifth inning with one out remaining and was replaced by Don Kelly at third base. He has played through back issues this season, but teammate Torii Hunter – who, as it turned out, would also be out of the lineup Friday – said that one particular play Monday convinced Cabrera that the injury was serious enough for him to come out of the game.
“He knew he couldn’t get that ground ball that Adam Dunn hit out there,” Hunter said. “Miggy knew when he couldn’t get to that ball, he’s, ‘Aw, okay, I’m hurting the team. That’s something that – like today, if I can’t get to a ball or something happens, I’m coming out because I don’t want to weaken the team. I still want to win, even if I’m not on the field.
“That’s what Miggy did the other night,” Hunter added.
Rand said Cabrera looked much better Friday than he did Monday.
“He’s made real good improvement,” Rand said. “Obviously we held him out of the lineup today to get him a chance to do some activity. He’s feeling a lot better, but he still feels that he needs another day or so.
“You’d rather lose Miguel Cabrera for two, three games in a row than two, three weeks,” Rand added, “so it’s important for us to make sure that he’s right before we put him back out there.”
Cabrera has missed four straight games only one other time in his career, when a high ankle sprain ended his season in late 2010. That year he missed 12 games out of 162 – more than double the number of games he has missed in any of his nine full big-league seasons.
In both 2012 and in 2011, Cabrera played 161 games, missing just one out of the entire season. He missed just two games out of 162 in 2008, 2009 and 2004. In 2007, he did not play in five. In 2006 and 2005, he missed four.
In nine full seasons, there are 1,458 games. Between 2004 and 2012, Cabrera played in 1,425. Over his nine full seasons, Cabrera has played in 97.7 percent of his team’s games.
Playing 87 games in his rookie year of 2003, Cabrera missed just three games. This season, Cabrera had only missed one game before having to sit because of the sore hip flexor.
Hunter said Cabrera’s durability over his career is a result of mental toughness more than any other factor.
“He’s one of those guys that might have pain and mentally he’s just – he can take it,” Hunter said. “His pain tolerance has to be high because he plays hard, he plays with a lot of joy. I’m pretty sure he’s sore some days but mentally tells himself, ‘Hey, go. Let’s get it done.’ So Miggy – he’s tough.”