DETROIT — Miguel Cabrera is scheduled to be in the starting lineup for the Tigers’ home finale on Sunday, which will be his 1,000th career game at Comerica Park. Barring something unforeseen, it will not be his last.
A day after incoming Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris told Mitch Albom on WJR-AM that the team has no plans to move on from Cabrera, manager A.J. Hinch confirmed that Cabrera will return for next season, his 21st in the Major Leagues and the final year of his contract.
The meeting, Hinch said, was productive for both sides.
“We expect Miggy to be here,” Hinch said Saturday. “We expect him to do his part in the offseason to prepare himself to be healthy and productive and the icon that he is.”
Come Sunday, Cabrera will join Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina as the only active Major Leaguers to play 1,000 games at a single ballpark. Once Molina retires at season’s end, Cabrera will stand alone. He’ll be the only Tiger to play 1,000 games at Comerica Park, though Al Kaline, Lou Whitaker, Charlie Gehringer, Alan Trammell and Norm Cash all reached the mark at Tiger Stadium.
“Obviously, the time when he was at his lowest point this season, health-wise and mentally just fatigued from battling the various injuries, there was the conversation about what was next for him,” Hinch said. “But it’s never gotten past that. He was frustrated with being less productive than he’s used to.”
The injuries took a toll on Cabrera’s performance. He batted .300 as recently as July 9, spraying line drives around Comerica Park leading up to and after his 3,000th career hit on April 23. The performance brought up speculation about an All-Star selection before Major League Baseball added him to the American League roster along with Albert Pujols on the National League side in recognition of their career achievements.
Cabrera is batting .149 (15-for-101) with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs since the All-Star break. However, he flashed some of his old power when he hit his 507th career home run Wednesday, a 411-foot drive into the visiting bullpen in left-center field.
“I think Miggy is very realistic with where he’s at, both health-wise and performance-wise,” Hinch said. “He’s very much about winning. He wants to finish on a much better note than his last few years have been as a team. I think Miguel’s on board with whatever we need to do to make things better.”
Cabrera currently sits 24th on MLB’s all-time hit list at 3,084, five away from Ichiro Suzuki. He’s 27th on MLB’s home-run list, two away from Gary Sheffield.