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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.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Leyland defends Miggy's effort at KC

It was a good talk-show topic, but Jim Leyland wasn't buying the argument that the Tigers lost the final game at Kansas City because Miguel Cabrera didn't run hard out of the box.

If you'll recall, the Tigers — who'd gone 17 innings between runs against the Royals before scoring in the eighth inning Thursday — had two on and one out in the ninth inning of the series finale. Cabrera at the plate. Everything set up perfectly.

Then he hit one right up the middle, a grounder that Royals second baseman Johnny Giavotella fired to shortstop Alcides Escobar for what appeared to be a tailor-made, game-ending double play. Andy Dirks hustled down the line, though, and appeared to break up the throw from Escobar, who held onto the ball.

But then Escobar fired to first anyway. Everybody had the same reaction: What, did Miggy stop?

Apparently, yes, he slowed down. But it wasn't an issue of dogging it out of the box, his manager insists.

"Cabrera shows me something all the time. I think people were looking for something they didn’t really (see) ... I think what happened was that ball he hit was real close to the bag. It was for sure probably a routine (double play), and the reason Dirks got there so fast was because there were guys on first and second. That was his first reaction when it was hit, his foot’s hurtin’. Then he realized what was going on, and he tried to get after it a little more. He wasn’t dogging it, contrary to what people want to make of it. It was so close to the bag, it looked like a simple boom-boom throw over. And you try to accelerate on something like that — it’s hard to come out of the box and accelerate. Watch him right now. It’s hard," Leyland said after Friday's game.

"Even when he deked a guy in center field tonight — he actually deked him — it wasn’t like he was burning up the basepaths. I defend him 100 percent in that situation. And I don’t think ... Miguel Cabrera has ever not given us a great effort, every single day, every day, for however many years he’s been here.

"I don’t buy any of that. That can be a nice conversation for people if they want to talk, but I defend him 100 percent."

It was the same thing Leyland was asked before the game, along with the caveat, is he healthy?

And that answer is: No.

"No, he’s not totally healthy. He is not. He is not. He is playing, but he’s not totally healthy," the manager said, quickly shutting down that line of questioning.

"That’s the answer to your question. You asked me if he was totally healthy and I’m telling you that he is not totally healthy. But he is playable. ...

"It’s the one. The sprained ankle. It’s still sore. Playable, but sore. And, it is getting better, but it’s sore. At some point, I’m sure he’ll be 100 percent. And, I think it’s one of those things."

Cabrera acknowledged he's hurting, too.

“My body feels good, my ankle not. But what am I gonna do? Gotta go out there and play. I want to play," Cabrera said. 

“All movement, side to side, hurt a little bit. What can I say? I’m not going to do some excuse to not make plays and stuff. The point here is win games and try to do good.”

It'll likely make for a long night of pondering for Leyland, considering whether he should put him back at DH.

"What’s good for him is good for us, so I’ll just have to sleep on it tonight. I don’t know. What do you do?" Leyland said.

"He’s playing in some pain, but he’s playing. This is certainly not the time to take him out. But at the same time, you know what? If I thought, at any time, I was doing something to hurt a player, I wouldn’t play him. I don’t work like that. There’s no point in hurting somebody. But obviously, the trainers are pretty confident he can get through it."


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