Miguel Cabrera’s Detroit Tigers teammates share what makes him so special as he chases 3,000

Detroit Free Press

The sky was grey, and snowflakes floated through the air.

Several hours before the Detroit Tigers lost to the New York Yankees, 4-2, on Tuesday night, the scoreboard read 41 degrees. It felt like ideal weather conditions to go cut down a Christmas tree.

Or maybe, a little deer hunting.

But Miguel Cabrera came barreling down the Tigers dugout steps.

“It’s weather for baseball!” Cabrera said, breaking into a smile. “Let’s go!”

Welcome to Miggy Week. At that moment, Cabrera was five hits from reaching 3,000, one double from becoming the 18th player in history with 600 and two homers past joining the 500 Club.

[ Why Miguel Cabrera’s march to 3,000 hits is special for Eduardo Rodriguez ]

Those are staggering statistics, considering only seven players in MLB history have hit 500 homers and have 3,000 hits: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.

And Cabrera will be next.

So we are on Miggy watch, waiting for history.

But here’s the crazy thing. This week is all about Miggy, all about the numbers, all about the milestones. But Miggy has never been about the stats.

Cabrera still acts like a kid on the field, still loves the game.

“I think Miggy probably wants less attention,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said before the Tigers lost 4-2, in a game that never seemed to end. “But I think in general, anything that makes his teammates happy, makes him happy. And I think we’re all enjoying it, so he’s enjoying it.”

MORE FROM SEIDEL: Akil Baddoo hasn’t even scratched the surface. Here are some encouraging signs

A fun-loving guy desperate to win

I walked around the Tigers clubhouse on Monday, asking players a simple question: what impresses you about Cabrera?

“He just wants to win,” pitcher Michael Fulmer said. “That’s the biggest thing with him.”

Robbie Grossman said something similar: “The thing that is most special about him is the burn to win,” Grossman said. “I don’t think fans really get to see that, just how much winning means to him. I mean, he’s as competitive as anyone out here.”

None of Miggy’s teammates talked about the hits, or the doubles, or even the home runs.

“He wants to have fun,” third baseman Jeimer Candelario said. “He’s a guy who wants to joke with the guys, wants to hang out with guys, wants to contribute and he wants to win.”

Or as Hinch said: “Since Day 1 that I’ve been here, he’s been about trying to win the game.”

You starting to sense a theme here?

MORE FROM SEIDEL: How did Alex Lange become crucial to bullpen? Go back to how he was raised

‘It’s gonna be a lot of fun for us’

So maybe it was fitting that Cabrera sparked some life into the Tigers, at a moment when everything had gone haywire.

When the game got downright weird — after the Tigers misplayed a pop up between home plate and the pitcher’s mound that scored two runs and then Rony Garcia cracked a fingernail — Cabrera stepped to the plate in the second inning.

The Tigers were trailing, 3-0, but the sparse yet frozen crowd came alive. Then Cabrera worked the count full against Gerrit Cole before simply slapping a hanging slider into center field, putting him four hits away from the milestone.

And the fun side of Miggy came out.

When Yankees third baseman tried to double Cabrera up, Miggy stood there waving, breaking into a smile.

And in the middle of Willie Castro’s amazing 11-pitch at bat with the bases loaded, Castro checked his swing. Cabrera was on third and spread out both arms, helping out the umps, calling it a ball.

And he broke into another huge smile.

“We’re gonna be celebrating the crap out of this,” Fulmer said. “Whether he likes it a lot or not, it’s gonna be a lot of fun for us.”

While Cabrera appreciates baseball history and I’m certain he understands his place in it, it didn’t seem to matter to him on Tuesday night.

Even though he got another hit, even though he took another step toward history, Miggy slumped in a chair, in a corner of the quiet clubhouse, looking miserable.

He just hates to lose.

MORE FROM SEIDEL: The window is open for the Tigers. Why they must step through it right now

Contact Jeff Seidel: jseidel@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.

Articles You May Like

The Tigers Are Reaping The Benefits From A Quiet August Pickup
Tigers select RHP Josh Randall with 85th pick in 2024 MLB Draft
MLBTR Podcast: Top Trade Candidates, Hunter Harvey To KC And The Current State Of The Rays And Mets
GameThread: Tigers vs. Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
Tigers 11, Dodgers 9: A walk-off to remember

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *