Notes: Cabrera diagnosis; coach confab

Detroit Tigers

HOUSTON — The on-field playfulness that Miguel Cabrera and Jose Altuve usually engage in when the Tigers roll through town will have to wait until the Astros come to Detroit. But the good news for the Tigers on Monday is that they might not have to wait long to get the injured Cabrera back in their lineup.

Tests on Cabrera’s left biceps confirmed a mild strain, according to manager A.J. Hinch. It’s a better diagnosis than some feared when Cabrera went on the 10-day injured list Sunday, but it’s still an injury that will take some time to heal.

“We’ll kind of re-evaluate series by series on where he’s at,” Hinch said Monday afternoon. “We don’t feel like it’s major, but we feel like he’s going to need a little bit of rest and some therapy in order to get himself back ramped up, and we’ll see how long that takes. Hopefully, it’s the shortest amount possible. …

“Quite honestly, I think he was relieved just to be told it was mild and not something more major. Now he’s got to do the rehab part to get himself back ready, but, hopefully, that’s it.”

Cabrera should know the rehab process for that injury, having ruptured a tendon in the same biceps in 2018. That injury required season-ending surgery at midseason. This is his first major injury to the same area since then.

The rest and rehab could also be a reset for Cabrera, who had slumped since his home run through the snow on Opening Day. He was 1-for-17 with a double, two walks and three strikeouts since his day off April 4 following cramps the day before. Cabrera’s slump likely was exacerbated by the biceps soreness, which eventually led him to alter his swing. That adjustment led Hinch and the Tigers’ staff to get the issue checked out.

Hinch’s pitching coach fraternity
While Monday marked Hinch’s return to Houston and a reunion with many of his old Astros players, it was also a reunion with some his staff, including trusted pitching coach Brent Strom.

The 72-year-old Strom is in his eighth consecutive season as Astros pitching coach and his 11th season coaching in the Majors. He’s more than  twice as old as Hinch’s current pitching coach, 35-year-old Chris Fetter. When Hinch brought Fetter from the University of Michigan onto his coaching staff in Detroit, he put the two in touch.

“Strommy’s the best I’ve ever been around,” Hinch said. “One of the first things I did when I got this job and we hired [Fetter] was put him in contact with Strommy, both so he can just have a mentor to learn from, but also get sped up on what it’s like sitting next to me in the dugout and all the pitching questions that I ask for nine straight innings.

“So I love Brent Strom. I played for him, and he always is prepared and his players respond.”

For now, Hinch is playing the hot bat in the middle of the order. But Ramos’ start to the season while batting in the bottom half of the order has opened some eyes.

“He’s hit the ball out of the ballpark, and this is a ballpark that you can hit it out to virtually anywhere,” Hinch said. “I like the matchup enough to put him in that spot. … And we’re trying to find the right mix that gives us a little better offensive attack.

“I mean, Ramos right now is hitting the ball as hard as anybody, and a few of them are carrying out of the ballpark.”

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