DETROIT — Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has been trying to get a day off for Miguel Cabrera for about a week, a task made harder by the fact that Victor Martinez — the team’s backup first baseman — has been out of the lineup with an injury.
Wednesday is finally the day.
Cabrera was out of the lineup for the first time this season in Wednesday’s series finale vs. the Dodgers, with Don Kelly starting in his place.
“Miggy’s earned a day off,” Ausmus said. “I think he’s the one guy that hasn’t had a day off all year.”
Cabrera recorded his 359th multi-hit game with the Tigers on Tuesday, tying him with Rudy York for 14th-most in franchise history. It was his 101st game of three or more hits since coming to Detroit.
“That’s why he hasn’t had a day off all year. He’s not the type of guy you want out of the lineup,” Ausmus joked. “But he had three hits yesterday, so I figured the odds are in my favor that he doesn’t get three hits today. But I’d never bet against Miggy.”
There were other reasons for choosing Wednesday:
“Generally speaking, when you’re a regular player, you want a day game off. Night games are much easier, you get to sleep in, get a full night’s sleep. Day games are usually what regulars like,” Ausmus said.
“It’s tough to play matchups with Miggy, because he hits most people. To be truthful, the best time would’ve probably been Sunday, if they hadn’t changed it to a night game, because historically, he and David Price — the numbers are in Price’s favor. But when they changed it to a night game, that kind of changed my thought process, because again, day games are better for regulars.”
And the final four games of the first half are against the Tigers’ closest competitor in the American League Central Division.
“We’re playing outside the division, we’re playing outside the league, if you want to get technical,” Ausmus said. “So that was kind of the thought process behind it.”
Cabrera has played in 148 or more games every full season in the big leagues, and 157 or more in eight of his first 10 full seasons.
Last year, dealing with the core muscle injury that necessitated offseason surgery, he missed 13 games in the second half of the season after taking just one day off in the first half.
DETROIT TIGERS (49-37):
Austin Jackson, CF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Torii Hunter, DH
J.D. Martinez, RF
Don Kelly, 1B
Nick Castellanos, 3B
Alex Avila, C
Eugenio Suarez, SS
Rajai Davis, LF
Max Scherzer, RHP (10-3, 3.47 ERA)
LOS ANGELES DODGERS (51-41):
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, DH
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, LF
Andre Ethier, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Miguel Rojas, SS
Zack Greinke, RHP (11-4, 2.66 ERA)