Former Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias opens up about Miguel Cabrera, his future

Detroit Free Press

Former Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias gets a chance to witness history in his return to Comerica Park.

From afar, Iglesias has followed Miguel Cabrera‘s epic climb to 500 home runs. They were teammates in Detroit from 2013-18, which included some of the best and worst baseball the Tigers have played over the past decade.

Entering a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels, the 38-year-old Cabrera is one home run away from becoming the 28th player in MLB history to smash No. 500. The last player to accomplish the feat was David Ortiz in 2015.

“I keep my eyes on Miggy and the team,” the 31-year-old Iglesias said Tuesday, standing outside the visiting dugout at Comerica Park. “I’m very excited for him. Hopefully he does it in the next three days so I can see it and experience it. It’s a guy that played through a lot. That will be a great achievement for him, his family and the whole team.”

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Cabrera and Iglesias were “together all day long” while they overlapped on the roster in Detroit, playing together for five seasons across six years. (Iglesias missed the entire 2014 season due to stress factors in both of his shins.)

The Tigers acquired Iglesias, then 23, from the Boston Red Sox in a three-way deal in July 2013. (The Chicago White Sox were also involved, receiving outfielder Avisail Garcia to the White Sox, while the Tigers sent Brayan Villarreal and the White Sox sent pitcher Jake Peavy to the Red Sox.)

That’s when Iglesias befriended Cabrera.

“I learned a lot from Miggy, his consistency and leadership,” Iglesias said. “He’s a unique player. He can be difficult at times. But generally speaking, he’s great. I love Miggy. Beyond baseball, he’s my friend. I couldn’t be more happy for him to achieve what he’s done, though everything he’s been through. He played through stuff that probably me and a few teammates know.”

Cabrera’s determination to stay on the field, despite numerous injuries, motivated his teammates to keep playing, as well. From 2013-17, Cabrera averaged 143 games per season. His 2018 season, however, ended after 38 games because of a rupture in his left biceps tendon. He needed surgery.

Still, Cabrera always wanted to play.

“It doesn’t matter how you feel,” Iglesias said. “You got to play. You got Miggy dealing with broken here, broken there. Hips and this and that and biceps, you got to play regardless. He was a great example for all of us.”

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Since leaving the Tigers, Iglesias has played for the Cincinnati Reds (2019), Baltimore Orioles (2020) and Angels (2021). The Orioles traded Iglesias — who becomes a free agent after this season — to the Angels for a pair of prospects this past December.

After a front-row seat for a portion of Cabrera’s career, he is now in the lineup with Angels superstars Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.

This season, Ohtani is the highlight of baseball. The two-way phenomenon entered Tuesday hitting .269 with 39 home runs and 86 RBIs in 114 games, along with a 2.93 ERA, 39 walks and 112 strikeouts across 92 innings in 17 starts.

Watching Ohtani is enjoyable, but Iglesias doesn’t like bouncing around the big leagues.

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For his next destination, Iglesias wants to find home.

“My next move will be home,” Iglesias. “The next team I sign (with), I want it to be home for me. It’s been difficult, going from team to team with new faces and divisions. It’s been a grind, but I’m taking it one day at a time. But I’m ready to find a home, play and win a championship.”

The Tigers, coincidentally, need a shortstop.

“Wherever it is, I’m ready to find a home,” Iglesias said, “and win a championship for the team that gets me next year.”

This week, though, Iglesias isn’t interested in talking about the offseason or what might happen next in his life. Instead, he is focused on beating the Tigers in the three-game series and performing well in a ballpark he cherishes.

And for his close friend, he would like to see Cabrera hit No. 500.

“We just love each other,” Iglesias said. “It was a great way for me to learn, to see his routine and preparation. Miggy doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s very special.”

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

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