Why Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera is back to ‘DH only for the time being’

Detroit Free Press

Miguel Cabrera didn’t complain.

That’s how Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch knew Cabrera agreed with his most recent decision. At least until the All-Star break, the 38-year-old will be restricted to designated hitter only.

Cabrera hasn’t played the infield since June 22, exiting the game against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning with right calf tightness but avoiding a stint on the injured list. (Back in April, he went to the injured list with a left biceps strain.)

“I’ve gone back to the DH only for the time being, really just being super cautious with him,” Hinch said Saturday. “He still feels OK. Every now and then, I can seem him favor (his calf) a little bit. It’s not enough to take him out of the lineup yet, but enough to where I just want him to have his at-bats. Being on the bases so much in Cleveland, which is a good thing, gave me a little bit of pause as well. I’m just being very careful with him.”

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Through 60 games in 2021, Cabrera is hitting .236 with seven home runs, 31 RBIs, 16 walks and 65 strikeouts. He logged a .329 batting average across 22 games in June, along with crushing five of his six doubles.

Cabrera has played 28 games at first base this season, making just one error in 226 chances — good for a .996 fielding percentage.

Last year, he served solely as the designated hitter and hadn’t taken the field since June 18, 2019, despite pleading for the chance to be a defensive player again. Once Hinch showed up as the Tigers’ manager, he granted Cabrera’s wish.

Right now, the 19-year MLB veteran simply needs a break.

“We’re trying to get him to the finish line of the All-Star break,” Hinch said. “He’s in a good place right now, both mentally and physically. We’re doing the best we can with him. DH only for now.”

Hinch later added: “Obviously, he wants to be out there. He’s been in a really good place at the plate. I think he recognizes that we need to be smart about the next 10 games.”

Fulmer gets good news in Dallas

Right-handed reliever Michael Fulmer traveled to Dallas on Friday to visit Dr. Keith Meister, team physician for the Texas Rangers. He wanted a second opinion on his right cervical spine strain, which landed him on the 10-day injured list June 27.

Detroit’s team doctors told Fulmer the injury was isolated to his neck and did not damage his shoulder or anywhere else on his throwing arm. Meister relayed the same message.

“Same diagnosis as before, where it’s a neck issue and muscular,” Hinch said. “He’s going down to Lakeland to start his rehab. I’m not anticipating him being available before the All-Star break, but we’re hopeful that it won’t be too long after that. Right now, that’s just a guess.”

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Fulmer, 28, has a 4.05 ERA, 11 walks and 42 strikeouts in 40 innings across 25 games (four starts). He went down with a right shoulder strain June 6, which kept him out until June 14, before hurting his neck June 27.

Rehab assignment updates

The Tigers placed outfielder Victor Reyes on the 10-day injured list June 3, retroactive to June 2, with a left intercostal strain. He played two games as part of a rehab assignment for the Low-A Lakeland Flying Tigers but jammed his shoulder on a slide.

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The setback held him out of game action until Friday. Lefty reliever Derek Holland is also in Lakeland making process, but hasn’t pitched for the Flying Tigers. He landed on the 10-day injured list June 10 with left shoulder inflammation.

Reyes and Holland could soon make the move to Triple-A Toledo to complete their recovery.

“They’re having some weather trouble down there,” Hinch said. “I don’t know how much consistent playing time (they will get), so we’re going to try to get some guys out of there. … Derek Holland is down there, going to throw a live BP. We’re going to try to get them out of Lakeland and maybe into Toledo and get to pitching and playing.

“As soon as we can get them to Toledo will be the best read for them as to when their readiness is.”

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter

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