As the Detroit Tigers prepare for their postseason 2012 rematch with the Oakland Athletics, their manager Jim Leyland confirmed what most people suspected, that superstar 3B Miguel Cabrera is hurt. The 2012 Triple Crown winner (and 3-time reigning batting champion) Cabrera discernibly slowed down over the last month of the season, batting .278 with 1 HR and 7 RBI in 72 AB after September 1. Leyland’s noted that he is tough (from the AP via ESPN.com):
“He’s not 100 percent,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s been playing in a lot of pain. He’s a real tough guy. I think if anybody knew the pain he’s playing in, they probably wouldn’t believe it.”
Despite the late-season swoon, Cabrera equaled his 2012 home run total and was only 2 RBI short of last year, with a batting average 18 points higher than his 2012 total. Essentially, the galactic season by Chris Davis (53 HR, 138 RBI) derailed Cabrera’s hopes of a Triple Crown repeat.
But this injury is not about September, it’s about October. The Tigers are expected to have a tough battle with both the Oakland Athletics, then, if they get by, the Boston Red Sox, both of whom they finished behind in the standings and will have to win on the road. The defending American League champions were thought to have the most talent of any ballclub, but are suddenly looking like a wounded animal against more confident teams. There’s no question Cabrera will play through the pain, he said as much (same article):
“It doesn’t matter right now,” Cabrera said. “You’ve got to be ready to play. Go out there and play hard.”
But will it be enough, or will the Tigers be one more season closer to their proverbial “window” closing? Tune in, October baseball is just starting.
– David Whitlock