Detroit — You knew it was bad right away.
When Miguel Cabrera walks off the field in the middle of an at-bat, clutching at his left arm, wincing in pain, which he did after a forceful swing and miss in the third inning, you knew this was serious.
The Tigers initially called it a strained biceps tendon.
Then the MRI results came back. The tendon was ruptured. Surgery is required. Cabrera’s 16th major-league season and his 11th with the Tigers is over.
And, with five years and $154 million remaining on his contract after this season, there will be questions about how this surgery will impact the rest of his career
“It’s definitely a big blow for our ball club and for that young man,” manager Ron Gardenhire said after Tuesday's 6-4 loss to the Twins. “He feels terrible. We’ve got to try and help him get through this thing. But this is a very sad day for our ball club.
“He’s a special player and a special person to have around here. It’s a blow.”
Cabrera dealt with a spasm in the same bicep on April 29 and missed three games. In the third inning Tuesday, he took a mighty swing at an off-speed pitch on a 1-1 count from Twins starter Jake Odorizzi and missed.
He immediately grabbed his left arm and walked to the Tigers’ dugout before trainer Doug Teter could even get to the top step.
Gardenhire was with Cabrera in the trainer’s room afterward when the verdict was delivered.
“He feels really bad; he feels like he let people down,” Gardenhire said. “This guy is a warrior. He goes out and tries to play through (injuries) all the time; you’ve seen him. He feels terrible. I have total respect for that man.
“He’s a hell of a baseball player and I hope we can get him through this and get him back playing.”
Gardenhire said the surgery would be scheduled “in the next few days.” He didn’t want to speculate on the long-term ramifications of this surgery on the 35-year-old Cabrera.
“This is a serious injury; understand that,” he said. “But I am no doctor. Once they go in there surgically and look at the thing, we’ll all know more.”
General manager Al Avila and assistant general manager David Chadd walked through a throng of reporters afterward with their heads down and eyes lowered. Any comments about the injury will come later. Cabrera, too, left without speaking to reporters.
Gardenhire said John Hicks would get the bulk of the playing time at first base. Grayson Greiner, who was recalled from Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday, will share the catching duties with James McCann. In addition, utility player Ronny Rodriguez would be called up before the game Wednesday.
“Ronny will come up and help us for the near future,” Gardenhire said. “We will make some other decisions as we go along.”
After the news was delivered following the loss, Gardenhire, according to Nick Castellanos, told the team, “Let’s come back tomorrow and get after them. Let’s go get ‘em tomorrow, that’s all we can do.”
“It was somber for just a short while,” Castellanos said. “We’re all with Miggy. He’s a huge part of this team. But Gardy said go get ‘em tomorrow and I walked over and threw on the music. It was somber in here for just a short period of time.”
Shane Greene and Castellanos have emerged as active leaders in the Tigers’ clubhouse this year, though they leaned heavily on Cabrera and veteran Victor Martinez. Their work just got tougher.
“Now we’ve got to step up, myself included,” Castellanos said. “Everybody has to do their part to pick up the slack. It starts tomorrow.”
Blaine Hardy, who pitched six strong innings Tuesday night, said the initial feeling was Cabrera may be lost for four to six weeks. The news that he was out for the season was shocking.
“He’s been the face of this franchise for more than a decade,” Hardy said. “The fact that he’s out for the year — that’s tough. We have guys that will be able to fill that void. But I mean, how much of that void can you actually fill? That’s Miguel Cabrera.
“All of us are shocked to hear that’s the case. We saw the swing, the cringing on his face and we figured, ‘OK, maybe it’s a four-to-six-week type of thing.' But the rest of the season? That’s no bueno.”