By Ashley Dunkak
Make no mistake – the Detroit Tigers enjoy significant talent at many positions. They have proven throughout this season that they are more than a one-dimensional ball club, more than just steady pitching or just heavy hitters.
As many weapons as they have, though, the Tigers cannot afford to lose Cabrera, and his injuries are still bothering him. He missed his 13th game of the season, the most ever in his 11-year big-league career. He first missed a game July 4, and ever since, an abdominal injury has nagged at him.
Mainly, it bothers him running and fielding, so making plays at third base has been more difficult than usual, and his running on the base paths has at times been downright painful to watch.
Taking time off, though, is easier said than done. First of all, the Tigers still have not clinched the American League Central, and although first place is essentially a given, they are still trying to finish the season strong. Secondly, and just as importantly, hitters get rusty when they are not swinging the bat every day – even Cabrera, by his own admission.
“If you can see my average, my production in September, I would say yeah,” Cabrera said with a smile and a chuckle. “It’s hard. You don’t take time off right now, this part of the season.”
Cabrera has a point. In August, he batted .356. Through 16 games in September, his average is .264, although thanks to frequent walks he still has a solid on-base percentage of .409 in that span.
Tigers outfielder (or infielder) Don Kelly says Cabrera’s injuries are concerning but that hopefully he can get right soon. Cabrera said he does not know how much he will play during the remainder of the regular season but that he is going to push through the injury.
Right fielder Torii Hunter said he is not concerned because he knows Cabrera will play through pain and at least be in games even when he is hurting, but he knows the situation is tough for Cabrera.
“As far as for him, because he wants to run better – he gets upset,” Hunter said. “When he can’t run or he gets thrown out, he gets really upset. You guys might not see it, but I know it’s killing him. And he wants to be well, so he’s going to do whatever it takes to get out there and be ready for the postseason.
“It’s important to have him now, but I think it’s more important to have him for the postseason because we’re trying to win,” Hunter added. “We need him.”