DETROIT -

Miguel Cabrera is stinky right now. There's no other way to describe Cabrera's struggles at the plate after he went hitless against the Los Angeles Angels on Easter Sunday before a crowd of 28,921 at Comerica Park.

In the Tigers' 2-1 victory over the Angels, Cabrera went 0-for-3 with a walk. He struck out twice, both times looking at 3-2 fastballs. In his final at-bat, Cabrera hit into an inning-ending double play.

Cabrera, obviously frustrated, refused to comment when asked about his batting after the game.

Tigers' manager, Brad Ausmus, said he's not concerned about Cabrera's current struggles.

"Unless he's keeping it a secret, I know Miggy is going to be fine," Ausmus said.

And it pretty well could be the case soon. But it's not in the here and now.

Cabrera -- who had offseason surgery to repair core muscles damaged by a groin tear -- just doesn't look like the best, most-feared hitter in the game. So much so that opposing managers have pitched to him with runners in scoring position and first base open.

"Everybody struggles," said starter Max Scherzer when asked about Cabrera's slow start. "It doesn't matter who you are. This game is tough. I don't care who you are."

It appears opponents are more willing to take their chances with Miggy at the plate than they have been the last two seasons. And why not? In 15 games, the two-time reigning American League MVP is hitting a woeful .220 with one home run and seven RBI.

Those numbers are for the birds, not a proven slugger.

"You have to give him the benefit of the doubt," said Torii Hunter. "I don't know if he's comfortable with swinging, if he wants to rotate his hips or something. So you have to allow him to figure it out. With a guy like that, he's going to figure it out."

Cabrera, who just turned 31, entered the season with hopes of becoming the first player to win the AL MVP three years in a row.

It appears as if Cabrera is struggling the most he ever has in a Tigers' uniform. But it's not true.

In 2012, Cabrera got off to a dreadful start, going three for 25 with no home runs and one RBI in April. Then in May, Miggy went six for 34 with two RBI.

Cabrera then went on to win the Triple Crown, the first one to do so in baseball since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

Cabrera's teammates believe he will eventually turn his season around once again.

"You can tell he's going to snap out of it," Scherzer said. "He still has his swing. You can see it. It's only a matter of time before he explodes."

And while Victor Martinez (.308 with three homers and seven RBI) has started the season well at the plate, there's no doubt Cabrera also misses the protection of Prince Fielder in the batting order.

The fact remains that Cabrera's two best seasons came with Fielder in the four hole and Miggy batting third.

In those seasons, Cabrera won two AL MVPs and hit more than 40 home runs for the only two times in his career.

If you don't believe in the Fielder protection angle, the last two guys who hit in front on him have won a total of three MVPs in the last three season. Ryan Braun won the National League MVP in Milwaukee in 2011.

Fielder's left-handed power bat makes pitchers more apt to have to throw Cabrera some good pitches he can mash.

So far, be it his recovery, no Fielder or just a slow start, it just hasn't happened. The mashing has been off the menu.

"He hasn't found his groove yet," Hunter said. "He's trying to find his swing. Once he finds his groove, he's going to help us out tremendously. So all we can do is go out there and try to lift him up and pick him up."

Surprisingly, they have done that. That's the only good thing about Cabrera's slump; the Tigers (9-6) have still found a way, early on at least, to win games.