Miguel Cabrera on 3,000 hits: ‘Just don’t try to put pressure on myself and go from there’

Detroit Free Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Miguel Cabrera makes hitting look so easy

Like Thursday night, when the 38-year-old — turning 39 Monday — went 3-for-4 in the Detroit Tigers4-2 win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Cabrera has 2,994 hits over his 20-year MLB career, six shy of becoming the 33rd MLB player to reach 3,000 hits.

“If we want to be good this year, we got to win within our division,” Cabrera said Thursday. “We got to play good baseball and try to play over .500 to give us a chance to make the playoffs.”

DOWN MEMORY LANE: How Miguel Cabrera’s epic 500-homer journey to history began in Venezuela

Royals starter Zack Greinke fed Cabrera back-to-back 89 mph sinkers in the same location in the second inning; the two-time MVP fouled off the first pitch, then punched the second to left for his first single.

In the fourth, Cabrera passed on Greinke’s first-pitch 84 mph slider in the dirt. He then adjusted to an inside 71 mph curveball, putting the ball into left for his second single.

“I got a really good idea of what he’s going to do to me,” Cabrera said. He has faced Greinke, a 19-year MLB vet, 42 times, beginning in 2007, and owns a .300 batting average against him.

Cabrera recorded his third hit in the sixth, this time against right-handed reliever Collin Snider. Again, the at-bat lasted two pitches. He swung and missed at a perfectly executed down-and-away 85 mph slider. The next pitch, a 94 mph sinker near the outside edge of the strike zone, turned into an opposite-field single.

“The three hits is awesome,” Tigers starter Casey Mize said. “He’s getting closer, so I’m looking forward to whenever 3,000 comes.”

Cabrera has 16 career games with at least three hits against the Royals — more than any active player. In 109 games at Kauffman Stadium, he boasts a .320 average (134 hits) with 23 doubles, 19 home runs and 90 RBIs.

“I feel like in this stadium you can get a lot of hits because it’s really big,” Cabrera said. “You don’t get a lot of home runs, but I like to put the ball in play and see what happens.”

Cabrera has opened the 2022 season hitting .318 (7-for-22) with one double, three RBIs, two walks and seven strikeouts in seven games. He wasn’t in Wednesday’s starting lineup — a scheduled off-day — but entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.

Detroit is 3-4, with Cabrera picking up at least one hit in each of the wins.

“We fight,” Cabrera said. “We come in every day to play. I think that’s really important. We’re ready to play every day, and I think we can do a lot of things on the field and win more games.”

The Tigers play three more games at Kauffman Stadium before returning to Comerica Park for a six-game homestand against the New York Yankees (Tuesday-Thursday) and Colorado Rockies (April 22-24).

BIG FLY: Tigers star Miguel Cabrera makes history with 500th home run

With six more hits, Cabrera will become the seventh player in MLB history to accomplish both 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, alongside Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez.

“I’m lucky to see it,” Tigers second baseman Jonathan Schoop said. “I saw Adrian Beltre (get 3,000 hits in 2017). I gave him the ball. He got a double, and I gave him the ball. So I saw him, and now I’m going to do it again.”

Unlike the chase for 500 homers, Cabrera doesn’t feel immense pressure to reach this milestone.

A single, he said, is easier than a home run.

“I’m just trying to focus on every at-bat, every pitch,” said Cabrera, who has 502 homers. “Just don’t try to put pressure on myself and go from there. Just go out and make something happen.”

There’s something else keeping Cabrera grounded.

It’s his winning mindset.

“I try to go out there and play my best baseball,” Cabrera said. “I know there’s a lot of pressure. I know there’s a lot of eyes on me. But at the same time, I’m in a good position right now. I’m happy to be here. Hopefully we can win more games. I think that’s more important.”

Contact Evan Petzold 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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