By: Will Burchfield

Through the first eight games of the Tigers season, Miguel Cabrera has three hits — all singles. He has yet to drive in a run. It is far and away the slowest start of his 15-year career.

He’ll snap out of his funk in due time, of course. Nobody’s doubting that. The question is, when? How soon? In the Tigers clubhouse, manager Brad Ausmus is banking on one guy to accelerate the process, a guy who knows Cabrera as well as anyone in the league: hitting coach Lloyd McClendon.

“Lloyd has known Miggy for a number of years. He was the hitting coach here (from 2007 to 2013) before he went to Seattle to manage, so he’s got a very good, long relationship with him. He knows Miggy really well,” Ausmus told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket.

What makes McClendon’s relationship with Cabrera so unique is his willingness to show the Tigers slugger some tough love. Right now, Ausmus feels, Cabrera might need it.

“Even the best players in the world sometimes need encouragement or positive feedback or maybe even a kick in the butt. And Mac, because of his openness with Miggy, can talk to him in whatever manner he sees fit to help him get over this,” Ausmus said. “And he will get over it, there’s absolutely no doubt about that.”

The Tigers manager said Cabrera has no problem being called out, challenged, or, in Ausmus’ words, “kicked in the butt.”

“Oh, he can handle it, there’s no question Miggy can handle that. Miggy’s got a very good barometer. Baseball players are going to make mistakes. They’re going to make an error, make a baserunning mistake, do something that in hindsight wasn’t the best thing to do and Miggy’s got a very good barometer. Even if he does something wrong, he usually knows that he’s done something wrong or something isn’t going right and if you call him on it, his barometer is usually set perfectly and it’s easy to discuss,” Ausmus said.

Cabrera, still looking for his first extra base hit of the season, will bat third on Thursday afternoon versus Phil Hughes and the Minnesota Twins. In 47 career at-bats against Hughes, Cabrera is hitting .404 with six homers, five doubles and 14 RBI.


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