BALTIMORE — Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch has changed his mind.
One home run away from No. 500, Miguel Cabrera will not play Thursday’s series finale against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, postponing his milestone chase until the Tigers return to Comerica Park in Detroit on Friday to begin a six-game homestand.
The Tigers want to protect Cabrera’s health and offer fans the best chance to witness his 500th home run at Comerica Park, where a “Miggy Milestones” tracker is stationed beyond left field. He hit No. 499 to left-center field in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the Orioles, doing so in the fifth inning off right-hander Matt Harvey.
Hinch is scheduled to speak at 1 p.m. and will explain his decision to rest Cabrera.
Keeping Cabrera out of Thursday’s lineup comes as a surprise, considering Hinch — talking after Wednesday’s victory — said he would start the 38-year-old at designated hitter for the final game in Baltimore, even with temperatures expected to reach nearly 100 degrees when the game begins at 4:05 p.m. and his slugger one homer away from history.
At Camden Yards, Cabrera has hit .293 (44-for-150) with 12 homers over 40 games in his 19-year career. He went 3-for-4 in Wednesday win with two singles, a home run and a sacrifice fly, giving him 2,950 career hits.
“We’re not going to test baseball fate,” Hinch said Wednesday night. “We really want him to hit it whenever he’s supposed to hit it. Maybe it’s tomorrow, maybe it’s not. It’s not easy to walk up there and say, ‘Today’s the day I’m going to hit a homer,’ even for Miguel Cabrera. It’s so hard to predict.”
Also, Hinch said Cabrera didn’t have a problem playing in the finale.
“He wants to win tomorrow, and that’s what he let me know,” Hinch said. “He gives us the best chance to win when he’s at DH.”
Tigers lineup today
RF Robbie Grossman
DH Jonathan Schoop
3B Jeimer Candelario
LF Eric Haase
1B Renato Nunez
2B Willi Castro
CF Victor Reyes
C Grayson Greiner
SS Zack Short
P Matt Manning
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.