The Tigers let Torkelson, MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 prospect, know that he has made their Opening Day roster in a Saturday morning meeting in manager A.J. Hinch’s office. Not only were Hinch and general manager Al Avila in attendance, but so was Cabrera, who has played first base for 12 of his 14 seasons in Detroit.
“A.J. and I and Miggy were in A.J.’s office, and Miggy officially gave him his first baseman’s glove,” Avila said. “Miggy was part of it, and proud of it, too. And Tork, you could tell he was very emotional about it.”
Torkelson is probably still going to use his own glove, but the gesture might well be a passing of the torch from Detroit’s greatest hitter of his generation to potentially the next. The 39-year-old Cabrera has been in Torkelson’s corner ever since the Tigers drafted him first overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, and has pushed for Torkelson and fellow Tigers top prospect Riley Greene to get their chance in the Major Leagues.
“We want Torkelson in the lineup, so I’ll take the DH [slot],” Cabrera said last month. “I’m here to help, go out there and play my best baseball and try to help everybody here.”
In many ways, Torkelson represents the potential end to the stretch of five losing seasons that have worn on Cabrera as much as anybody. When Cabrera was in his prime seasons, the chance to win was big enough that he played through several injuries, including a groin tear one season and a broken foot in another. The Tigers’ losses over the last few seasons have grated on him.
Compared to the injuries Cabrera played through, giving up first base is an easy sacrifice for him to make for a promising young slugger who can power Detroit back into contention.