CLEVELAND – Miguel Cabrera's sweet, powerful swing hasn't been the same this season.
Now it's clear why.
Cabrera has been dealing with soreness in his left biceps, and the Detroit Tigers decided to put the All-Star slugger on the 10-day disabled list Sunday to undergo testing and find out exactly what's wrong with one of baseball's best hitters.
Cabrera, who is closing in on 500 career home runs and other milestones, played first base in Saturday's 11-3 loss to the Indians. He went 0 for 3 at the plate, and manager A.J. Hinch said Cabrera felt his biceps “grab” during an at-bat in the seventh inning.
Hinch could tell Cabrera was altering his swing — he isn't releasing one hand on his follow-through — and felt it was time to shut him down before the injury worsened.
“I told him after the game I don’t want him to keep fighting it and get it checked out and put him on the injured list to make sure we nip this pretty early,” Hinch said before the Tigers were beaten 5-2 and swept by the Indians on Sunday.
The two-time AL MVP underwent further evaluation and tests in Cleveland, and the Tigers consulted with their doctors in Detroit. At this point, Hinch said the plan is for Cabrera to remain with the team on the road and travel to Houston.
A four-time batting champion, the 37-year-old Cabrera is off to a slow start. He is batting just .125 (3 for 24) with one homer and three RBIs in seven games.
Hinch is understandably concerned about Cabrera's injury, but he's not going to overreact until the team gets more information.
“I don’t like that he altered his swing in order to compensate for it," Hinch said. “That bothered me and got me over the edge last night to have him not battle through soreness. He wasn’t in a tremendous amount of pain, but we’ve got to find some answers to why it was hindering his confidence and his comfort.
“I’m concerned when you put a guy on the injured list like this, but I don’t know how to diagnose it other than to give him some rest opportunities and then have our doctors tell me what they think after a further and deeper evaluation.”
Cabrera has 2,869 hits and needs four more to tie Babe Ruth for 45th place on the career list. He's likely to climb up other lists before he's done playing.
Indians manager Terry Francona was sorry to hear about the injury.
“You never want to see anybody injured,” Francona said. “Hopefully it’s not something that keeps him out for a while. Because I looked up at the board at some of those names he’s tracking down, they’re pretty good names. When you start putting Babe Ruth and names like that, that’s pretty impressive.”
To replace Cabrera, the Tigers selected the contract of infielder Renato Núñez.
Cabrera's injury is the second significant one for the Tigers this weekend. On Saturday, starter Julio Teheran was placed on the injured list with a shoulder strain that could sideline him for months. Detroit moved him to the 60-day injured list Sunday, partly due to learning more about the injury in the past 24 hours.
“It kind of grew as we got more and more information," Hinch said.
The injuries will challenge the Tigers, but Hinch won't let them turn into excuses for his club.
“This has not been a great week for us. But if your chin is already down and you’re already defeated after eight games, then that’s a problem,” he said. "I’m not going to ride the roller coaster of it and expect our team to. We need to do things better. We got a lot of areas of improvement. We’ve been hit with the injury bug this week and that doesn’t feel great.
"It’s our reality. I don’t anticipate any negative vibe or sad attitude or anything like that.”
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