Miguel Cabrera’s ailing knee responding well to Tigers’ workload-management plan

Detroit News

Arlington, Texas — Before Friday’s game, a reporter from The Associated Press wanted to get Miguel Cabrera’s thoughts on Cardinals slugger Paul Goldschmidt, who is making a bid win the Triple Crown.

“Why ask me?” Cabrera said.

“Because you were the last person to win it (in 2012),” the reporter said.

“I already did it,” Cabrera said. “I did it already. Go ask him.”

Playfully irascible Miggy was back and that’s typically a sign that he is feeling better. Which, thanks to a reduced playing schedule, he is.

“He’s been feeling better and better,” manager AJ Hinch said. “I think he can do a little more. It’s not a health decision now with why we’re not playing him in two games of a three-game series.”

Cabrera hasn’t started back-to-back games since Aug. 1-2. He’s had four days off between his previous three starts and three days off before his start at Globe Life Field on Friday.

He hates it, for sure. But he admits it’s helping keep the pain at bay in his right knee — to the point where Cabrera took batting practice on the field before the game Friday. He hasn’t been doing that regularly.

“I mean, there is no other option (but to take the days off),” Cabrera said. “The alternative would be to go on the IL. I don’t want an IL stint. It’s feeling better, so we’ll see. Now I have to start to hit.”

Cabrera was hitting .287 on July 27. Since then, he’s been in a 3-for-43 skid with no extra-base hits.

Hinch has been using Cabrera’s off days to spread some at-bats around. Kerry Carpenter, Eric Haase and Harold Castro have all been plugged into the DH spot.

“Miggy has responded to everything we’ve asked him to do,” Hinch said. “He’s not limited on the days he’s not playing. We kind of joke about him being a part-time coach.”

Around the horn

The Tigers will face a very familiar left-hander on Saturday. The Rangers called up Dallas Keuchel from Triple-A Round Rock to make a fill-in start.

Keuchel, who won a Cy Young Award on a Houston team managed by Hinch, will make a start for a third different team this season — White Sox, Diamondbacks and Rangers. It will be the second time Keuchel has debuted with a new team against the Tigers this year, too (his first start with Arizona was at Comerica Park).

“I’ve been around Keuchel a long time,” Hinch said. “He keeps chasing me around the American League.”

… Right-hander Michael Pineda is expected to make his final rehab start with Toledo on Sunday. Barring a setback, he could rejoin the Tigers’ rotation next week.


Twitter: @cmccosky

Tigers at Rangers

First pitch: 7:05 p.m. Saturday, Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas

TV/radio: BSD/97.1

Scouting report

LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2-3, 3.89), Tigers: Watching him attack the Angels on Sunday, you would never have guessed he’d missed three months. He was dotting edges with four-seamers, two-seamers and cutters, hardly needing to mix in his slider and changeup. He pitched five scoreless innings in a relatively efficient 78 pitches. The only evidence of rust was three walks.

LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-7, 8.53), Rangers: He’s pitching for his third team this season after being released by the White Sox and Diamondbacks. The Tigers have the distinction of being the opponent for his first start with Arizona and now Texas. They scored four runs off him in 4⅓ innings on June 26. He’s made four starts at Triple-A Round Rock, allowing six runs in 23 innings with 22 strikeouts.

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