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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Leyland doesn't think Miggy's back issue will linger, plans to play him more than three innings in All-Star Game

DETROIT — Rest will be just what the doctor ordered for Miguel Cabrera’s ailing back.

Or at least what the manager and the head trainer advised.

Cabrera took the advice of manager Jim Leyland and head trainer Kevin Rand, and declined an invitation to participate in next Monday’s Home Run Derby, in part to rest up his back for a second-half push.

“He obviously is not in the home run hitting contest, which turned out good,” Leyland said Wednesday. “I think it’s a very smart move and that was something that Kevin Rand and I recommended to him very highly not to do that and he complied with that. I don’t think it’s a major issue.”

Nor does the manager think it will be an ongoing issue.

“I think it will get better even though he’s playing. I think the All-Star break will do him some good. I don’t think he’ll be going through this all year long if that’s what you mean. I don’t think that. I think it’s one of those things that it’s fine unless a certain thing happens, where he has to make a quick move or something. That seems to be when it might flare up momentarily and then it kind of goes away,” Leyland said. “I don’t think his back is an issue other than the fact that I don’t think he’s 100 percent.”

It seemed like that was exactly what happened Tuesday night, when the Tigers’ third baseman had to stretch high for an errant throw from the outfield in the top of the eighth inning. After coming back down from his jump, he bent over momentarily, hands on knees, and looked like it was really bothering him.

Then, in the bottom of the inning, he cranked a two-run homer.

“I think he knocked it out of place a little bit and then when he hit the homer he got it back in place,” Leyland joked.

Like the sore ankle that sidelined him in late August for one game — and put him at designated hitter for two more — Leyland figures rest is the only real necessity for getting the issue fixed.

“I think everybody in this room has had a bad back at some point. But everybody in this room doesn’t have to go out and play a game,” said the manager, who has had his own back issues in recent years.

“I think it’s just a matter of what you can handle. The best part about it is he’s got a manager that if he needs a day or two off he’s going to get it. But I don’t think this is something that’s going to linger. I don’t really think that. I don’t really see that. I’m not getting any advice like that from the trainers or Cabrera.

“You can tell there’s something. You might pick your spots to get him out of a game.

“(Tuesday) night, until he hit the homer might have been one of those games where you say take an inning or two off. If we were going to get back in that game, he would have had to come back up again, so you have to be careful of that.”

At least Leyland will be able to be on hand to make sure that the All-Star Game manager — Leyland himself — will handle Cabrera carefully in next Tuesday’s game in New York. It won’t be like the 2011 game, where the slugging star left early after tweaking a muscle in his side on a swing, leaving the manager to rely on a fortuitously quick phone call from the media relations staff.

"That sends a red flag up, even when you're home relaxing," Leyland said at the time.

This time around, Leyland plans on playing Cabrera more than the minimum three innings that starters must complete.

“I think he’ll play more than that,” Leyland said.

“I’m going to play him. I’m not going to play him nine innings, but I’m going to play him. I’m going to play him more than three innings to start, I can tell you that right now.”


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