Miguel Cabrera hopes to return to Detroit Tigers in a few days: ‘He wants to play’

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera, on the injured list, took a trip to Ann Arbor on Saturday morning and attended a portion of Michigan football’s 59-0 win over Connecticut at the Big House.

By 2 p.m., Cabrera was in the Tigers’ clubhouse.

Not long after that, the 39-year-old took early batting practice on the field in anticipation of being cleared to play in the upcoming road series, from Monday through Wednesday, against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. He has been sidelined since Sept. 2 with a left biceps strain.

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“I think he’s got a few more tests to take, but his goal is to be an active player in Baltimore,” manager A.J. Hinch said Saturday. “We’ve laid out what he needs to do in order to make that happen. Football Saturday, we’re about at the 50-yard line.”

Cabrera swung the bat 40-50 times Wednesday in the batting cage, then went through back-to-back days of outdoor batting practice Friday and Saturday at Comerica Park. He is scheduled for another round of batting practice, this time indoors, before Sunday’s 12:10 p.m. series finale against the Chicago White Sox.

The 20-year MLB veteran, who reached 3,000 hits in April, does not have severe pain in his right knee or left bicep.

“He felt good, that’s what he told me,” Hinch said. “He was swinging the bat freely. He was strong. He didn’t get tired. He was more interested in what his swing looked like than how he felt, so all signs that are really good.”

After Sunday, the Tigers will decide if Cabrera will play against the Orioles.

“Physically, he’s done everything that he needs to,” Hinch said. “Conditioning-wise, we’re trying to make sure that he can — he even fouled off a few balls on purpose, but a non-contact pitch is the one thing you don’t know about how he’s going to respond health-wise.”

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Cabrera is batting .256 with 10 doubles, four home runs, 25 walks and 94 strikeouts in 102 games this season. He has a career-worst .622 OPS. Since the All-Star break, he has a .135 batting average and .441 OPS in 23 games.

With 18 games remaining, Cabrera wants to finish the season healthy and plans to return in 2023 for his final campaign.

“It matters to him, a lot,” Hinch said. “I think it bothers him that he’s not playing, and he’s worked hard in things that you guys haven’t seen to get himself physically back and ready to play, and now he wants to play. That matters to us, matters to him. It’s one of the reasons that we’re going to move things around to accommodate him getting probably one to two games a series for the rest of the year provided he’s healthy.”

Báez (knee) scratched from lineup

Before Saturday’s game, the Tigers scratched shortstop Javier Báez from the starting lineup.

The 29-year-old is sidelined with right knee soreness.

Taking his place, rookie Ryan Kreidler received his third start at shortstop. Kreidler is batting seventh, and since Báez was supposed to bat third, everyone else moved up in the lineup. Rookie Spencer Torkelson is in the cleanup spot.

Báez, hitting .359 with two home runs in September, didn’t take ground balls on the field in warmups.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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