Miggy makes All-Star trip a family affair

Detroit Tigers

Miguel Cabrera made his first All-Star Game appearance in 2004. While the 21-year-old Marlins phenom replaced Sammy Sosa in right field for the National Leaguers in Houston, Cabrera’s current Tigers rookie teammate Riley Greene was a 3-year-old in Florida.

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch made a point of the age difference when he announced Cabrera’s 12th All-Star selection — and his eighth as a Tiger — to the team. It was a good-natured way to make the 39-year-old Cabrera feel old.

But there’s a bigger, more important generation gap that leads Cabrera to Dodger Stadium for this week’s festivities alongside teammate Gregory Soto and Tigers legend/honorary coach Willie Horton. Cabrera was a 33-year-old reigning batting champion when he went to his last All-Star Game in 2016, but his son Christopher was just 4 years old, not quite old enough to appreciate the festivities or the big deal made about his dad.

Now 10, Christopher is old enough to appreciate all the celebrations and feats his dad has enjoyed over the past 12 months, from his 500th career home run last summer to his 3,000th hit this past April. This will be one more experience, one that they can enjoy together. For that reason, though Cabrera could’ve used the days off to get ready for the second half — which begins sooner for the Tigers with Thursday’s doubleheader at Oakland — he wanted to do this.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Cabrera said, “because we’re going to do the Home Run Derby.”

No, Cabrera won’t be slugging in it, though his son asked if he could. In past years when Cabrera went to the All-Star Game, he bypassed the Derby because he didn’t want to risk messing with his sweet swing that was the focal point of the Tigers’ offense and carried a city’s October hopes with it. This time, he might have loved to put on a show for his kids alongside good friend Albert Pujols, but his body has other ideas. He pats his balky right knee as he talks about it, noting the injuries that have taken their toll in recent years. His pragmatic swing is more about line drives with occasional power these days.

Instead, Miguel and Cristopher will take in the Derby as fans, sitting on the field watching the game’s younger stars, such as Christopher’s favorite player, Braves star Ronald Acuña.

“He might look for [Shohei] Ohtani, too,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera is a proud papa who isn’t taking this for granted. He had no expectation that he’d ever get back to this event. A selection to the squad by the Commissioner was never on his mind, even as speculation grew about Pujols being added to the roster in his final season.

He didn’t want to make a big deal about it when asked a few weeks ago. He’s making a bigger deal about it now that it’s reality. He’s soaking it all in, him and his kids.

“It’s crazy,” Cabrera said. “It’s awesome.”

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