Miguel Cabrera's condition sore spot for Detroit Tigers

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - Miguel Cabrera didn't play on Sunday afternoon, the Tigers' final regular-season home game.

The odd thing is that Cabrera, battling a groin injury, was actually feeling better than the slugger has been. And that's a good thing.

Still, you have to wonder if the real Cabrera will be ready when the postseason starts a week from Friday.

"You're always concerned about it when your star player isn't 100 percent," Tigers' manager Jim Leyland said.

The Tigers need Miggy to be Miggy if they have any real shot to win the Fall Classic for the first time since 1984.

In 143 games, Cabrera has had another MVP-type season. He's batting .349 with 44 HRs and 136 RBI.

But Miggy has struggled lately as his injury has taken a toll. He has just two extra base hits since August 26, including one home run. His injury has basically reduced him to a singles hitter. And when he does get on base, he clogs them up and has to go station to station in order to score.

Don't be fool by the Tigers' runs and wins the last few weeks. They are playing also-rans, cellar-dwellers. The Tigers won five of their last seven games, but they come against last place teams Seattle and Chicago.

That's why they were able to tie Saturday night's game at 6-6 after trailing 6-0 to start the bottom of the ninth.

In the postseason, it's real deal, the best pitchers pitch. That's how the San Francisco Giants swept the World Series from the Tigers last October.

It was pitching, great pitching.

It was why the Tigers only scored four runs in four games and were shutout in two of them.

It hard to score in the postseason and hit homers. Ask Cabrera. In last year's World Series, the Triple Crown winner hit .231 (3-for-13) with one HR and three RBI.

Yet, we are to believe that playing hurt, Cabrera will be able to produce as he did before he was hobbled.

Good luck.

Cabrera isn't bummed out that he's not going into the playoffs not 100 percent.

"I'm going to stay positive," Cabrera said. "Positive like I'm going to be good in the postseason.

"I don't want to say I'm not going to be 100 percent. I still want to play my best, go out there and try to fight."

The problem is Cabrera's injury affects almost everything he has to do on the field.

"It's tough fielding, running," he said. "It affects like most of your game. You have to come through. I don't what how to say it but you have to go out there and do your job."

The Tigers are really trying to figure out what to do with Cabrera before the playoff start.

They have six games left in Minnesota, starting Monday night.

he season finishes in Miami. For sure, they would like to rest him after the clinch the AL Central for the third straight season. And if they do, the playoffs wouldn't start until next Friday. So while they want Cabrera to rest some, they don't want him to get too much time off. Baseball players are used to playing every day. Long layoffs can sometimes hurt, especially when it comes to hitting and timing at the plate.

"It's hard to take time off this part of the season," Cabrera said.

Teammate Torii Hunter added, "I'm not really concerned. I'm pretty sure he wants to be healthy. I want him healthy. But it is what it is."

Let's face it. If Cabrera were healthy, most would believe that the Tigers would have a great shot to get to the World Series a second straight year and even possibly win it this time.

But now, it's hard to imagine them being the favorites out of the AL without their big gun fully loaded.

"I don't like to be a favorite," Cabrera said. "In baseball, as you saw (Saturday) night, you don't know what's going to happen until the last out.

"Anything can go bad. So we just have to go out there and play baseball. I don't think this is going to be a distraction for us. We know what we have on our ball club and we'll be ready to play."

The question still remains: Will Cabrera be ready?

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