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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, August 26, 2012

Cabrera gets day off to rest sore ankle, Tigers win anyway

Managers don’t get paid the big bucks to make out the lineup card on a daily basis.

They get paid well to make out the lineup on those rare days when you need to sit down a star struggling with an injury, like Jim Leyland did Sunday, noting before the game “What’s best for Miguel Cabrera is best for our team.”

For the first time this year, the Tigers lineup came out, and it did not have Cabrera in it. The slugger will get essentially two days of rest for his sore right ankle, with Monday’s off day.

“You gotta think like they’re going to give you some days off,” said Cabrera, who’s rarely spent a game in the role of cheerleader. “It was a perfect time. That way, I can be ready for Kansas City.”

Considering his sore ankles, the rest was a welcome, much-needed commodity, hopefully allowing him to be ready to play the field for the series against the Royals, starting Tuesday.

“I’m pretty confident that Miguel will play third base in the Kansas City series. I’m pretty confident. Can I etch that in stone? No, I can’t. But I’m pretty confident he’ll play third base,” Leyland said after the game, which the Tigers won, 5-2, without their big slugger. “I think this did wonders for him, and it had nothing to do with the fact that we won the game. Nobody’s going to say anything about this now because we won the game. Had we not won the game, there would have been people who would have said, ‘How can you not at least DH him in a pennant race two games back?’ ... I didn’t sleep last night. I talked to a lot of people and made a couple calls last night. I talked to my coaches all day. But you know, at the end of the day when I talked to Cabrera, I knew the best thing to do was to rest him today no matter what the outcome of this game was today.

“That’s what managing is.”

Sunday was a rare day off for Cabrera, the first he’s had after starting all 126 games so far this season, and the final 42 of last season, including the playoffs.

His 161 games played last year (he started all but two) were tied for the most in the American League, and behind only Prince Fielder’s 162 in all of baseball.

“It’s a definite double-take, because you haven’t seen it all year, without Miggy in the three-hole,” starting pitcher Max Scherzer said of walking past the lineup, and not seeing Cabrera’s name.

“That’s just shows you, just a credit to how tough a player he is. I guarantee you, look at his body — he’s got bruises all over his body, and he’s still going out there, and fighting through it, and playing through it, playing a demanding position at third base, and hitting in the three-hole. He’s an absolute warrior, when it comes to playing every single game.”

Cabrera’s last game day completely off was Aug. 25, 2011, when he missed the final game of the Tampa Bay series for the birth of his third child. The last time you’ve seen Cabrera in uniform, in the park, but not ever in the game dates back to the end of the 2010 season.

But the Tigers pulled off a win anyway, getting homers from Delmon Young and Prince Fielder, and a two-hit, one-RBI game from Andy Dirks, who stepped into Cabrera’s spot in the third slot in the batting order.

“That was the goal. The goal was to win today and keep him off his foot and give him a break,” catcher Gerald Laird said. “The guy’s been huge all year, that’s all we can do for our best hitter. It was a nice win, we didn’t have to use him. He got some treatment today and hopefully he starts to feel better.”

The everyday third baseman for the Tigers had spent the previous two games at designated hitter after coming out of Thursday’s game in the second inning, when his sore right ankle would no longer allow him to play the field.
The everyday third baseman for the Tigers had spent the previous two games at designated hitter after coming out of Thursday’s game in the second inning, when his sore right ankle would no longer allow him to play the field.

And it’s obvious that the ankle has been hurting him.

He has dropped to third (.324) in the AL batting race, going 6-for-22 (.273) on the home stand, and 2-for-15 (.133) since Monday.

Sunday’s day off should help Cabrera’s physical well-being, but it probably also helped the mental well-being of the Tigers, to know that they could come together and win in his absence.

“Obviously, we were able to give him a blow today, and still get a win. That was a big thing for this team, for the team morale, to have him out of the lineup and still get a win,” Scherzer said. “That’s a credit to us, as a whole.”

“I was really proud. I found something out about our guys today, I think. I thought it was really good. I think they knew with the big guy out of there some guys really stepped up and responded. I’m really proud of that.”


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