By Ashley Dunkak
Miguel Cabrera has lifted the Detroit Tigers all season long, and going into the playoffs, the Tigers look focused on lifting Cabrera as he plays through injury.
The enchantment of Cabrera lessened this season as his injury robbed him of his usual running and fielding ability, and the abdominal strain caused him to miss enough games that his bat looked a little rusty at times.
Despite all the other great pieces to the offense, Cabrera is the best, but the Tigers do not want to put all the pressure on him to carry them in the playoffs, especially with the injury.
This need to compensate is evident from the way Detroit put together its playoff roster.
For one, Jhonny Peralta is on the list.
After missing 50 games due to his suspension, Peralta played the last three games of the season and will continue playing for the Tigers in the ALDS.
Although a somewhat polarizing choice because of his admitted steroid use, Peralta’s selection was not surprising. Detroit tested his ability in left field in instructional league play in the weeks leading up to his return, and the Tigers, as manager Jim Leyland put it, have accepted the idea of sacrificing defense at that position for Peralta’s offense.
The converted shortstop batted .303 this season, and as the sixth hitter in the lineup before being suspended, his bat gave the Tigers extra pop toward the end of the batting order. Since Cabrera is not as automatic as he was earlier in the year, the power Peralta provides driving in runs could be crucial.
Another way the Tigers have guarded themselves against the possible effects of Cabrera’s injury is loading up on versatile infielders like Ramon Santiago and Hernan Perez.
Perez, who joined the club when second basemen Omar Infante went down in July, has played just five complete games throughout August and September but sees spot duty regularly. Like Santiago, he can play various infield spots, making him a valuable guy off the bench. This could come in handy if the Tigers need someone to take Cabrera’s place at third if his injury forces him to be a designated hitter for a game or two – or more.
The Tigers still need Cabrera, make no mistake, but they look to have prepared accordingly in case he cannot be the same player who earlier this season made everyone hopeful for a repeat of his 2012 Triple Crown season.
Click HERE for the full ALDS roster