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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Miguel Cabrera reports to Tigers camp, apologizes

Miguel Cabrera finally made his belated arrival at spring training Thursday, one week after the story of his much-publicized arrest made headlines, and was so contrite, he apologized in two languages.

In his first public appearance since his arrest in late in the evening of Feb. 16, Cabrera met with members of the Detroit Tigers organization, then spoke to the media for nearly 30 minutes.

“First of all, I want to apologize to everybody. I want to apologize to my teammates, to my fans, to my family, to the Detroit Tigers, to the team,” the superstar said in English, before switching to his native language because of the gravity of the moment. “This is very important to me, that’s why I want to speak Spanish, because I don’t want to make any mistakes with my language.”

Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila acted as his translator for the rest of the news conference. Regardless of the language in use, there were still topics that got a “no comment,” including the reasons behind the still-sketchy incident, as well as concrete details of the outpatient treatment recommended by doctors brought in by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.

Cabrera, who was arrested on one count of suspicion of driving under the influence and two counts of resisting arrest without violence in Fort Pierce, Fla., roughly halfway between his Boca Raton home, and the Tigers’ facility in Lakeland, was on his way to spring training.

The vehicle he was driving, a 2005 Land Rover, hadn’t been driven in three or four months, and broke down at the side of the road.

Saying he “had no desire to drive right now,” Cabrera apologized to the officers who were later required to restrain him before arresting him, thanking them for the handling of the situation, and said that when the justice system takes its course, he believed “at the end, things will be cleared up.”

He also did not feel banning alcohol in the clubhouse or on team flights would be “appropriate,” and that “everybody should be responsible for their own actions, and he’s taking responsibility for his,” Avila translated.

“I just want to say that I’m very sorry for what I’ve done. I want to apologize to all my teammates, my owner, my family, my friends and everybody that I let down. I’ve worked very hard for a period of time in overcoming this, and I just want to get back and play, and have everybody forgive me. I ask for forgiveness,” Cabrera said.

“I also want to regain my reputation. I will work hard to regain that respect and my reputation.”

Some of that work will have to be with his teammates, who voiced their unconditional support for Cabrera in his absence, but had to deal with the aftermath of what he termed “one bad decision.”

Cleared to begin working out with the team as early as today (Friday), Cabrera said he did not plan to hold a group meeting to speak with his teammates, but preferred to meet with them individually, so he could apologize “face-to-face.”

Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said Cabrera had been cleared to play, and the choice to do so would be manager Jim Leyland’s.

Cabrera will be able to stay with the Tigers while going through the treatment program, and Dombrowski said they were actively helping Cabrera look for someone to stay with him at all times as a sort of chaperone, much like the one who accompanies Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers.

“Any time a problem manifests itself, it probably would have manifested itself at some point, so we’re better off that this was approached at this time,” said Dombrowski, admitting that the incident has the potential to be life-changing moment for Cabrera.

“I think so ... and I hope so. I mean, he’s really — it’s a shame when you have problems ... and there are a lot of good things that come along when you have his ability, but you’re also under the spotlight. And I think it’s a situation where he’s a quality person he has a good heart, he’s very supportive of his teammates, he’s great with kids, he loves his family. And so there’s so many good things, of course when there’s something like this happens it’s under the spotlight. ... It’s a situation where, hopefully we can put these type of things behind him, and all those other things will shine forward.”

Dombrowski also expects Tigers fans to be very forgiving of their star.

“I hope that they see how sincere he is, and that he acknowledges that he has a problem, and that he’s committed to fixing it, making it work. And I hope that they have an open mind to that,” the GM said.

Matthew B. Mowery covers the Tigers for The Oakland Press. E-mail him at and follow him on Twitter @matthewbmowery.

Below is the audio from Thursday's news conference (courtesy Tigers media relations):
(Warning: It's long)

Miguel Cabrera reports to camp, apologizes by MMowery23

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