Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera on his future: ‘No way am I going to quit’

Detroit News

Detroit — Might want to hold off on Miguel Cabrera’s retirement party.

day after he talked about the seriousness of his knee pain and the uncertainty of his future, Cabrera wanted to clarify one thing.

“I’m not going to retire,” he said, pulling me away from a chat with Riley Greene. “Not until after next year when my contract is done. They didn’t understand what I said. No way am I going to quit.”

Cabrera and manager AJ Hinch have discussed limiting his playing time the rest of this season. He’s going to be the team’s designated hitter every other day, for the most part. He was not in the lineup Friday night.

To a small group of reporters before the game Thursday, including The News’ Nolan Bianchi, Cabrera said: “We’ve got to talk to my agent. We’ve got to talk to the GM, we’ve got to talk to everybody, see what’s going to be the plan for next year. So right now, we don’t know. We focus about today. We’re going to go day by day and see what happens.

“But it’s nothing like — I don’t think about next year right now. I think about trying to finish healthy this year.”

It was the first time Cabrera seemed to indicate he might consider leaving the game before his contract expired. He’d always been steadfast that he would honor his contract, which will pay him $32 million this year and next, and play through 2023.

That news spread fast and was a topic on MLB Network and other national talk sports programs. Cabrera seemed bent on setting the record straight Friday.

“You’ve got to correct that,” he said. “I’m not going to quit. I am going to play out my contract.”

He understands, certainly, that his health may ultimately decide how much or even if he plays next season. He’s played through chronic pain in his right knee the last five years.

Through the first few months, he was able to manage the pain and was hitting close to .300 at the All-Star break. Since then, it’s been a struggle. He’s admitted the pain has intensified.

He and Hinch have been on the same page about reducing his workload.

“I don’t want to hurt the team,” Cabrera said Thursday. “I don’t want to put them in a bad position. I’m OK with (not playing as much).

“I love this city. I don’t want to hurt this city.”

Hinch said the issue of when Cabrera retires is a non-topic for him.

“Miggy can do what he wants,” he said. “He’s in control of whatever he’s going to do. The knee is still bothersome and we have to be very careful with him. This plan here (to play him every other day) has nothing to do with what his future plans are.”

For now, Cabrera is committed to doing what he can to get his knee right, to helping the team as much as he can and to honoring his contract.

“I’m an animal,” he said, breaking into his superhero voice. “I’m a wild dog. I’m going to fight.”

Then, in a more serious tone, he said, “Next year is going to go way better. Next year I’m going to be right there.”

Playing it safe with Skubal

Turns out, Tarik Skubal is a pretty good ping-pong player right-handed. He was battling Jason Foley in the clubhouse before the game, holding his own with his non-dominant arm.

His dominant arm, his left one, is in rest mode. He’s on the injured list with arm fatigue. Hinch said tests taken on the arm didn’t bring much clarity to the situation, so they are progressing slowly.

“Our plan is to restart his throwing program in a couple of days to make sure he doesn’t have the same sensation, the same feel that he had,” Hinch said. “Then you progress as you go. There is a chance this isn’t very long.”

There’s also a chance the Tigers will still take it extra slow with one of their most valuable players.

“There is a chance we are more conservative with him based on where he’s at and where we’re at and the reality of this season,” Hinch said. “It’s just day by day devise a plan. As much as we tested him, he still feels nothing.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s that big of an issue other than he is toward the end of a very long season of talking about injuries. He’s probably going to get the wrath of the conservative treatment based on how the season has gone.”

In other words, there is no earthly reason to rush him back.

Around the horn

Center fielder Derek Hill was claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners.

“I can see what they’re doing,” Hinch said. “They’ve been through a lot of injuries. It doesn’t surprise me that they’d take a shot on his skill set and see if he can help a contending team.”

… Michael Pineda (triceps) is still not scheduled for a rehab assignment. He threw a bullpen Thursday night, but only threw fastballs and changeups. Hinch said he reported no difficulties or pain.

… Rony Garcia (shoulder) is in Lakeland but hasn’t resumed his throwing program. He’s been out since July 25.

… Austin Meadows continues to do a full slate of baseball activity with the Tigers. The plan is for him to head out on a rehab assignment next week when the Tigers leave for a two-city trip through Chicago and Cleveland.

cmccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

Rays at Tigers

First pitch: 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: BSD/97.1

SCOUTING REPORT

LHP Shane McClanahan (10-4, 2.07), Rays: After a run of 14 starts of allowing two runs or less, the Guardians got to him last Wednesday, scoring five runs in 4⅓ innings and proving only that he’s human. His numbers this season are outrageous: best WHIP in baseball (0.82), opponent slash-line of .180/.225/.296, a 34.4% strikeout rate with a 5% walk rate and a meager 29.5% hard-hit rate.

RHP Garrett Hill (1-3, 5.88), Tigers: It’s not a good sign when your strikeout rate is under 10%, it’s even worse when that K-rate is exactly the same as your walk rate. That’s where Hill is after five big-league starts (9.8% on both). His next hurdle is to trust his stuff, because it plays. Opponents are hitting under .200 against his sinker, curveball and changeup. Most of the damage has come off his four-seamer and slider.

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