CHICAGO — Eight years ago, Miguel Cabrera turned on an inside fastball from Adam Wainwright in the first inning at Target Field. He lined the pitch over the left-field wall and into the stands.
The two-run home run sent Cabrera jogging around the bases. He drove in Mike Trout and gave the American League a 3-0 lead over the National League in the 2014 All-Star Game.
The homer off Wainwright is Cabrera’s favorite All-Star memory.
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On Friday, Cabrera received his 12th All-Star selection in his 20-year MLB career. Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the 39-year-old as an “All-Star Legends Selection” to the 2022 edition of the Midsummer Classic.
The Detroit Tigers‘ designated hitter will play in the July 19 game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
“It means a lot to me,” Cabrera said Friday, sitting near his locker in the visitor’s clubhouse at Guaranteed Rate Field. “It’s a great honor to be part of the All-Star Game. I feel like every All-Star Game is different. I can take advice from all the great players that are going to be there. It’s going to be fun.”
St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols, in the final season of his 22-year MLB career, is the “All-Star Legends Selection” for the National League. The commissioner can add legends to the All-Star Game due to a new clause in the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners.
“I’m really happy for Miggy,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said Friday. “I think it’s an incredible gesture by the commissioner, to honor the game’s best — past and present. It’s what the game is all about. It’s a great legacy award for Pujols and Miggy, two guys that have dominated their era. For Miggy, he could have made the All-Star team in a variety of ways.”
Cabrera and Pujols are two of three players in baseball history with at least 3,000 hits, 500 home runs and 600 doubles.
The other is Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.
“Really special,” said Cabrera, whose .310 career batting average is better than Pujols (.296) and Aaron (.305). “I’ve always looked up to Albert. I’ve always followed his career. He’s one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen in my life. To be part of this together is going to be great.”
Cabrera was named to an All-Star team in four straight seasons with the Florida Marlins (2004-07) and seven straight seasons with the Tigers (2010-16). During that stretch with the Tigers, he had a .330 batting average and .996 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 1,056 games.
“He was dominating the sport and was the most feared hitter in the game,” Hinch said. “And he’s still contributing at a high level.”
But Cabrera, until Friday, hadn’t made the All-Star team since 2016.
His son, Christopher, wasn’t old enough to remember much about his father’s past All-Star Game experiences. Six years later, Cabrera gets to soak up the memories at the historic ballpark in Los Angeles with his children: Christopher, Brisel (daughter) and Isabella (daughter).
“It’s going to be great for him,” Cabrera said of Christopher, who turns 11 in August. “Now he understands more about what I do, what we do. He’s excited, too. My family is excited. They can’t wait to be there.”
The starters for the 2022 AL and NL squads were released Friday evening, with the rest of the rosters set to drop Sunday. Another Tiger — likely a relief pitcher — will join the field of players since each team gets one representative and Cabrera’s inclusion is separate.
In total, 34 players will be selected to the All-Star Game.
“The joyfulness he brings every day, that’s something we always have to remember to appreciate in the moment,” Hinch said. “He’s going to be done playing one of these days, and we need his joy to be passed on to our younger players so that we can carry on his love of the game.”
Some of Cabrera’s AL teammates include Trout, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Jose Altuve, Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge. From the NL side, Cabrera will get to catch up with and compete against Pujols, Bryce Harper, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Willson Contreras.
“You get the chance to talk to other players,” Cabrera said. “You get the chance to ask questions and learn something. It’s fun because it’s the only time we can get together, sit together and talk about everything. It’s a good time to know people and talk about baseball.”
Besides 12 All-Star selections, Cabrera has achieved two AL MVP awards (2012, 2013), four AL batting titles (2011-13, 2015) and earned the 17th MLB Triple Crown (2012).
Cabrera is considered one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball history. He notched 500 home runs in August 2021, 3,000 hits in April 2022 and 600 doubles in May 2022.
Although Cabrera wouldn’t specify the date, Manfred personally called the future Hall of Famer and invited him to the All-Star Game.
“It was a good surprise,” Cabrera said.
“I’m excited to be part of the All-Star Game,” Cabrera continued. “It’s an honor. I can’t wait to get there, but at the same time, we got to play today. We got a game today. I got to focus on that right now. But I’m really happy.”
The Tigers (35-47 entering Friday) — fourth place in the AL Central — carry a five-game winning streak into Friday’s matchup with the Chicago White Sox. Detroit started the season 24-40 but has an 11-7 record since June 18.
Cabrera, despite a lack of power, has guided the offense by hitting .308 through 70 games. He has seven doubles and three home runs, but his batting average ranks eighth in the AL this season.
“When you’re winning, you’ll have a lot of fun,” Cabrera said, “and you don’t worry about anything. Hopefully, we can keep winning, and hopefully, we can have a good winning streak.”
All-Star Game starters
MLB announced Friday the starters for the 92nd All-Star Game, July 19 at Dodger Stadium.
C Alejandro Kirk, Toronto
1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto
2B Jose Altuve, Houston
SS Tim Anderson, Chicago
3B Rafael Devers, Boston
LF Giancarlo Stanton, New York
CF Mike Trout, Los Angeles
RF Aaron Judge, New York
DH Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles
C Willson Contreas, Chicago
1B Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis
2B Jazz Chisholm Jr., Miami
SS Trea Turner, Los Angeles
3B Manny Machado, San Diego
LF Joc Pederson, San Francisco
CF Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta
RF Mookie Betts, Los Angeles
DH Bryce Harper, Philadelphia