By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – The long, grueling baseball season always takes a toll on players, and the two-time defending MVP is no exception. Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera limped noticeably Monday, even as he made some impressive plays against the New York Yankees.
“He was good,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “He took some decent swings tonight, too. The double, that ball jumped off his bat, and he had the line drive to [Chase] Headley at third. You can tell the way he’s moving that the ankle bothers him, but it certainly didn’t stop him on defense. He had a couple nice picks as well as a double play.
“He’s kind of a warrior,” Ausmus added. “You saw it last year in September when he was hurt and he wanted to play. He likes being part of the team. That’s kind of his makeup. He’s not a prima donna. He wants to come to the field and be part of a team and be part of a winning team. He takes a lot of pride in being not only in the batter’s box but being on defense.”
Ausmus has said earlier this season that most of the time he gives players the benefit of the doubt when they want to play through injuries. Former Tigers manager Jim Leyland allowed Cabrera to do so in 2013, and veteran right fielder Torii Hunter expects Ausmus to do the same this season.
“Miggy’s tough, man,” Hunter said. “Especially us being trying to take over first place again, we’re in a dogfight, now your adrenaline is your painkiller. Miggy’s going to get it done. Last year he played with excruciating pain. This year I don’t think that pain’s the same as last year – because I’ve had what he had last year, and it was painful, but this year he’s just coping, he’s trying to figure it out, but if he can play last year, he can play this year. That dude is tough.”
Ausmus said the Tigers could occasionally use Cabrera as the designated hitter, but he does not see that as an option on a regular basis.
“It’s day-to-day,” Ausmus said. “I can’t throw [designated hitter] Victor [Martinez] out there every day at first base either. In talking to Miggy today, he said [the ankle] bothers him more running than it does on defense, so although he looks hobbled going out to his position sometimes and looks hobbled sometimes coming back, he said it doesn’t bother him too badly when he’s actually at first base. But certainly DH is an option. I don’t know that it’s something we would want to do every day.”
Cabrera’s power numbers have taken a dive this season, presumably due in part to a core injury that required surgery this offseason and in part to the current ankle issue. Cabrera showed some signs of his usual form Tuesday, however, particularly on the double he smacked.
“You can tell the velocity of the ball, came off the bat, jumped,” Ausmus said. “[Ichiro] Suzuki knew he wasn’t going to catch it as soon as it left the bat. When Miggy’s able to keep the weight back and drive into the ball, that’s what you see. You see a ball that gets hit a lot harder than other players hit it.”