MLB players, managers reminisce about Miggy and his career

Detroit Tigers

DETROIT — Snowpening Day. Miggy vs. Mo. A Triple Crown. Two MVP Awards. Four AL batting titles. Seven Silver Slugger Awards. 12 All-Star nods. No. 500. No. 3,000. As twilight falls on Miguel Cabrera‘s career, fans and teammates alike have plenty of memorable moments to draw from when asked to share their thoughts on the Tigers legend.

But what about the guys on the receiving end of all those home runs and opposite-field drives? On the penultimate day of his 21-season career, let’s take a look at what Cabrera’s opponents had to say about the Tigers legend:

“He’s everything to me. Growing up, he was always my favorite player to watch, from the day I was born to right now. I’m really happy for him and really proud of his career accomplishments.”

“He’s one of my heroes, and being in the game against Miguel Cabrera means so much for me. The first time I saw him play was like, such an awesome moment, I was almost crying. But at the same time, I was like, ‘Okay, we have to do this.’ My mind was like, ‘I’m playing against this guy. This hero.’

“He’s probably the best right-handed hitter I’ve ever seen. He and [Albert] Pujols, I would put the same category. I’ve been on the other side of way too many base hits.

“He’s a hitter, and he’s fun for our game. He plays with one of those infectious smiles on his face. It’s one of those love-hate things. … Competing against him, you hated him because it’s like, ‘God, is he doing this again to me?’ It just feels like he beat us so much. And he gets so many big hits, and he just knows how to have a professional at-bat no matter what the situation.

“He drives in runs as good as anybody I’ve ever seen. There’s not any holes in his game. When you’re back catching, you’re always trying to get out the good ones, like, ‘Where’s the hole?’ and guys like him didn’t have any.”

Royals manager Matt Quatraro

“I looked out there every time he hit and thought, ‘You’ve got Salvy [Perez] catching, [Zack] Greinke pitching and Miggy hitting.’ It’s potentially three Hall of Famers right in the same vicinity there. It’s pretty special.”

“He is a legend, and I was very impressed with him all the time [when I was growing up]. … Meeting Miguel was unbelievable. … He congratulated me, of course [on my MLB debut], and he gave me advice: ‘Just keep playing hard,’ and ‘It’s the same game.'”

“You look at those numbers up in left field [at Comerica Park] with the hits and the home runs … You just marvel at people that do that and how they get there.”

“That situation was very, very surreal. All the lights going on, the standing ovation he got. And then he got up to the plate, and I was like, ‘All right, I just have to locate this pitch.’ Next thing you know, he put a good swing on it. If I was to give up my first home run, I’d rather it be to a Hall of Famer than anyone else.”

Guardians manager Terry Francona

“I don’t know if people realize — and I wasn’t around him every day, but I was around him 18 or 19 games a year, which is a lot — how intelligent he was. When you had a runner on second and an open base, if you’re going to pitch to him, it was never comfortable because he seemed like he was always one pitch ahead as opposed to one pitch behind.”

“He was, for a stretch there, in the conversation for the best hitter in the game. [Multiple] MVPs, which is really hard to do, Triple Crown, but those personal accolades are one facet. He’s also a champion. And he’s played on winning teams and been at the core of winning baseball for Florida and for Detroit. I admire him because he’s a champion, I admire him because he’s played so long, and he has a good reputation.”

“I’m just thankful for the time I had to be his teammate all of those years. He was one of the best hitters to ever play the game, and I was there for a front-row seat for the glory days. I appreciated that.”

“He’s a legend, and all the numbers that he’s put up have been for all the work that he’s done. I think he deserves [the recognition]. All the guys respect him, not only playing against him but playing for him. You can tell he deserves all the respect, and he deserves exactly what he’s getting. He is definitely an example to follow. Everything he’s done, the discipline he’s had to maintain the longevity of his career, how he treats everyone, the way he treats them and helps out, everyone respects him just as much as he respects everybody else around the league.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone

“I think [he’s] the smartest hitter I ever got the chance to play with. I got to play with him in Miami when he was a young player, and I was a veteran backing him up, essentially. I love playing with him. I learned a lot from playing with him. When he gets in that box, he’s a genius.”

I’m going to miss him. I told him that today. ‘Hey, I’m going to miss you.’ Talking to him, wishing him the best, and hopefully, I can see him again.”

“He’s always just been so much fun to watch. The thing with Miguel Cabrera is that he’s always going the right way. There’s never really been any shade to his game. He’s just one of the purest right-handed hitters that this game has ever seen, kind of [like Albert] Pujols. It’s been really cool to watch him this year, and obviously, throughout the big leagues, he’s being celebrated everywhere. He’s been doing it right for a long time, and it’s just fun to square off against those guys.”

Braves manager Brian Snitker

“I remember I saw him in Double-A … and then the year he got called up to the big leagues, because I remember I went up to the Major Leagues. I was an extra coach in September, and I told [then-Atlanta manager] Bobby [Cox], ‘He’s doing the same thing to you guys he did to us in the Southern League.’ And he just hit the ball all over the place. And he just never stopped. It’s pretty cool to see the guy then, and now, he’s a Hall of Famer. Everything he’s accomplished is pretty special.

“That’s why they’re Hall of Famers; they’re a different breed. They’re different people. Hall of Famers are like that. They never have a bad year. They have a good year every year, and then it’s a great career.”

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