Miguel Cabrera has long been the face of the Tigers’ franchise. On Wednesday, Cabrera assumed a different kind of role: one to promote the COVID-19 vaccination effort in Michigan.
“[Mich. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer] asked me if I was able to do that,” said Cabrera, on being named co-chair of the Protect Michigan Commission. “Right away I said yes, because I think when you have the vaccine, it’s very helpful for you. I think, in my opinion, everybody has to have the vaccine to get better and get all this behind us and be normal again. I’m tired of this.”
Clubs were informed on March 29 that MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to relax certain health and safety protocols contained in the 2021 Operations Manus for fully vaccinated Tier 1 Individuals and for clubs where 85 percent of their Tier 1 Individuals are fully vaccinated. As part of that memo, players and staff were again strongly encouraged to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines when eligible.
“Based on what I know from getting vaccinated already, the shots are nowhere near as bad as the virus,” Cabrera said in a statement. “Our goal with the Commission is to get as many people vaccinated as possible, and I hope my support toward that end is successful.”
The Tigers were one of the first teams to have 85 percent of their players and staff vaccinated. The club set up Johnson & Johnson vaccines right after Opening Day. The Tigers also vaccinated the majority of their alternate site and Minor League players while they were in Florida this spring.
“We are grateful that ‘Miggy’ is stepping up to the plate to help inform Michiganders on the importance of getting their COVID-19 vaccinations,” Gov. Whitmer said. “We appreciate the Tiger organization’s advocacy because this is an all-hands-on-deck moment in our state’s effort to persevere and overcome the pandemic.”
More highlights from Cabrera’s Zoom session with media on Wednesday:
On returning from the IL
“I feel really good. It was really bad the first week of the season. I felt something the second game of the season, and it was bothering me.
“It was frustrating for me because in the last five years, I’ve been injured a lot. It’s not fun to play like that.”
On whether he likes being the go-to guy
“In some points, yes. When I hit (laughs). When I get some hits or I walk, I like that because we start something. I’m really focused on having really good at-bats, trying to send a message to our lineup. … Yesterday was a perfect example, because I was saying before the game, ‘You need to get out there and show [White Sox starter Lucas Giolito] something,’ so they get up and try to score some runs.”
“He loves to play baseball. He’s into it,” said Tigers manager A.J. Hinch. “Miggy’s all-in on getting after today’s opponent and figuring it out, and he has a big presence.
“Miggy’s tired of getting beat. He’s tired of losing. He’s tired of developing guys around him. He wants guys to step up and do well, as we all do. So I think for him, that consistent love affair with baseball that’s been here — we’ve seen it for a long time in this uniform, but also throughout his whole career — has been quite refreshing.”
On whether he feels pressure being a veteran on a young team
“A little bit, but at the same time, if I put a lot of pressure on myself, I don’t play good, so I try to focus, I try to prepare my mind mentally and physically to go out there and try to play my best baseball.”
“It’s an event when Miggy comes up to bat, in the dugout, for the fans, for our team,” Hinch said following Tuesday’s 5-2 win in the series opener against the White Sox, a game in which fellow veteran Jonathan Schoop also went deep.
“I know he wants to contribute, and he knows a lot falls on his shoulders on a young team that’s getting beat up a little bit, so I think both he and Schoop there … there were some big smiles on their faces when they got to the dugout.”