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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Miggy doing fine at third — so far

After an adventurous Opening Day at third base on Thursday — when he fell down trying to catch a foul fly, and flinched away from a hard-hit grounder — Miguel Cabrera had a much more solid outing in Saturday's Game 2.

The 3B-turned-1B-turned-3B turned in a fine defensive performance against the Red Sox, piling up four assists and even diving to his glove side to snare a liner off the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fifth inning.

"Oh, it was a nice play. You see that?" Cabrera said with a grin after the game.

What did he think about the fan reaction to the play — a standing ovation?

"Surprised? Everybody’s surprised," Miggy said. "You guys were surprised."

His teammates and manager? Not as much.

"That what I expected, as hard as he worked in spring training. That’s what happens when you work hard," said Prince Fielder, who has himself been lauded for a couple of nice scoops at first.

To manager Jim Leyland, though, it's still a non-issue. He left Cabrera in the field late in the game, despite bringing in defensive replacements at other positions, so he could continue to get work.

"I wanted Miguel out there, because he’s our third baseman, and I’m not going to defense for him. ... And the more reps he gets out there, the more chances he gets to handle the ball, the better it is," Leyland said.

On Opening Day, Cabrera did a comical shoulder roll after losing his balance trying to snare a foul fly. Two pitches later, he was charged an error when he pulled up off a ball hit by Boston's Dustin Pedroia, admitting he was worried about it bouncing up and hitting him in the eye, as the now-infamous line shot had in spring training.

"I was kind of like ... I want to make every play over there. That play, I was a little scared of my eyes, for it coming up," Cabrera said, admitting the memory influenced his reaction. "Yeah (it had an effect), because I don’t go down on the ball, I was like ... [mimics pulling off].
My first reaction was kind of protect my eyes."

Cabrera added four more assists and a putout (a much cleaner snare of a foul fly) in Sunday's series finale.

Monday, he was named the American League Player of the Week — the ninth time in his career he's been honored — after going 5-for-11 (.455) with tying for the AL lead with three homers, and the MLB lead with eight RBI. He's carrying a slightly robust 1.273 slugging percentage.

And really, those are the stats that everyone wants to see, right?

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