Detroit — He won't be on the field, but he’s not going away.
Miguel Cabrera, who will undergo season-ending biceps tendon surgery Thursday in New York, said he plans to do his rehab work in the Detroit area so he can stay close to the team.
“I’m going to be around,” he said. “It’s tough to just get out of the way. I want to still feel part of the team.”
Cabrera was understandably subdued when he addressed the media in front his locker Wednesday, his injured left arm in a black brace.
"I’m like in shock right now,” he said. “Knowing I’m not going to play anymore this year, it’s tough. But in the same way, I have to go fix this and try to come back healthy.”
Doug Teter, the Tigers head athletic trainer who delivered the bad news to Cabrera Tuesday night, said his first hurdle will be a mental and emotional one.“He was disappointed, obviously,” Teter said. “He apologized to Gardy (manager Ron Gardenhire) and he feels bad for the team. It’s a common theme when a person gets hurt, has a season-ending injury where they think they are letting the team down.
“You have to get through that first hurdle of acceptance and denial and you push forward from there with the goal of coming back.”
Make no mistake, Cabrera fully expects to be ready to play come spring training next February.
“I want to be part of this process,” he said. “But this injury, I have to see what the doctors say. Right now, I don’t know. It’s frustrating, a lot. But right now I just have to move forward and see what the doctor is going to say.”
Picking up the pieces
It’s one thing to plan for the absence of a player of Cabrera’s stature for a few weeks or a month, it’s a much larger task when he’s not coming back the rest of the season.
“It’s not easy,” Gardenhire said. “You’re not going to replace him. You just don’t. You put people in his spot, but you don’t replace a guy like that, with that kind of experience, with his presence when he gets into the batter’s box.
“But we’ll move forward, just like when he was hurt with his hamstring (the Tigers went 13-13 in that stretch). We just have to play. These guys know it.”
He was asked if they’d have to fight a woe-is-us attitude.
“I don’t think we have any problems with this ballclub,” he said. “These guys are game-on. They want to play. This group, they just keep riding on through. We’re going to miss him, we all know it. But we just go out and play. Once we start the game, it’s us against them and we don’t worry about who we have and who we don’t have.”
John Hicks, as he did when Cabrera was out with the hamstring injury, will get the majority of playing time at first base.
“I’m ready to play wherever they want me to go,” he said. “I just want to be in the lineup and help the team win.”
Hicks admitted his task was different this time, knowing Cabrera isn’t coming back at all this season.
“Pressure is kind of what you put on yourself,” he said. “I am going to play and be the best version of myself I can be. I can’t go out and pretend to be Miguel Cabrera. That’s not going to happen. But I will try to be the best John Hicks I can be.”
TWINS AT TIGERS
First pitch: 1:10 p.m. Thursday
TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM
RHP Lance Lynn (4-4, 5.08), Twins: The Tigers helped him get on track back on May 22 when he threw 6.2 scoreless innings and induced a season-best 16 ground balls. In his last four starts, including that one, he’s 3-0, allowing four runs in 24.2 innings. Opponents are hitting just .191 off him in that stretch.
RHP Michael Fulmer (2-5, 4.40), Tigers: He’s coming off his most powerful, and most encouraging start of the season. He went seven strong innings and allowed one run against the Indians. He threw 71 fastballs at 95 mph or firmer. He struck out the side in the seventh inning, his fastball ringing at 97 and 98 mph.