Miguel Cabrera was removed from Friday night’s rain-shortened 7-2 win over the Cleveland Indians due to what has been dubbed “abdominal irritation”, marking the second straight game in which he was lifted early. The Detroit Tigers’ slugger and top AL MVP candidate has been visibly hobbled for more than a month with various leg/hip/abdominal ailments, but he has pushed through it in support of the club’s postseason aspirations.
Friday’s win over the Indians extended the Tigers’ lead in the AL Central to 7.5 games — a relatively commanding lead with only 27 left to play. With the calendar on the verge of turning to September — and roster expansion right around the corner — the Tigers can now (and should now) afford to give Cabrera an extended break. They won’t need to commit to a disabled list stint (and the 15 forced days off that come with it) due to the number of potential reinforcements available in the minor leagues, so they could now give him several days off without leaving the bench shorthanded.
The Tigers haven’t yet said how much time off they’ll give Cabrera down the stretch, but Jim Leyland all but said that he’ll give him the day off on Saturday, but the skipper will likely try to force him to sit for several days after that as well. We’ll probably see a lot of Don Kelly at third base versus right-handed pitchers and some combination of Ramon Santiago, (possibly) Matt Tuiasosopo and (potentially) Danny Worth versus left-handed pitchers. Who we almost certainly WON’T see at third base is Nick Castellanos, who hasn’t played any third base in a year and a half. If the Tigers’ call up their top prospect, it will be in an outfield-only capacity.
The Tigers would love to have Cabrera in the lineup everyday to aid in keeping the potentially pesky Indians at bay, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to make a run at the Tigers, and what’s most important is Cabrera’s readiness come the ALDS. That means it’s time for him to sit. That probably means goodbye to the remaining possibility of a second consecutive Triple Crown, but that’s a low cost when a potential World Series run is at stake.