JEFF BERLINICKE, Associated Press
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Miguel Cabrera had already been in camp for a few days when he really caught the eye of new Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
At 8 a.m. on the first official reporting date for Detroit’s position players, well before team meetings and an extra-long workout, Cabrera was sweating after hitting in the batting cage.
The two-time AL MVP has been energetic since his arrival and is looking forward to being healthy after a core abdomen injury bothered him down the stretch and throughout postseason. It is the same injury that has the Tigers taking it easy with starting pitcher Justin Verlander.
Cabrera said he feels fine and doesn’t plan to take any extra precautions this spring.
“Right now I feel healthy, I feel more fresh, and I’m trying to be 100 percent by the season,” Cabrera said. “I feel good and I am ready to play.”
Cabrera backed up his Triple Crown season of 2012 by hitting a league-high .348 with 44 homers and 137 RBIs in 2013.
This year, Cabrera has a chance at even bigger numbers since he is moving back to first base, where he is more comfortable, after the Tigers traded Prince Fielder.
Cabrera played mostly third base the past two seasons, and new first base coach Omar Vizquel, who is also working with the infielders, said he is going to leave Cabrera alone.
“Miggy knows what he’s doing,” Vizquel said. “I might point out some things the first week, but after that I can leave him alone.”
Cabrera said he felt at home back at first base. The Tigers have struggled defensively at the corners the past two seasons, but with young Nick Castellanos taking over at third and the sure-handed Jose Iglesias at shortstop, the Tigers have fortified the defense significantly.
Cabrera is keeping his third baseman’s glove, just in case. He said he wouldn’t bark at being asked to play third.
The Tigers lost in the AL championship series last season to Boston. They later traded Fielder to Texas for star second baseman Ian Kinsler.
On a club filled with stars, the three-time AL Central champs remain the team to beat in their division.
“I like it that expectations are high. We’ve got a great ballclub, but we’ve still got to go out there and play. We don’t know what’s going to happen on the field, so I think the first thing we can do is be healthy, and then we can build,” Cabrera said.
NOTES: Ausmus said he was impressed by how many position players reported early. … The Tigers will have an informal program for players on Wednesday to discuss ways for players to deal with the media, as well as social media and new technologies. It is available for all new Tigers or anyone that didn’t attend last year’s session. … Newly acquired OF Rajai Davis said he wants to get plenty of time in the batting cage. “I’m just getting myself ready for the season,” said Davis, who stole 45 bases in 108 games last year with the Toronto Blue Jays. “I still have my speed.” … RHP Justin Verlander, who is recovering from core surgery on his abdomen, threw 54 pitches in the bullpen, but no batting practice.
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