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‘He’s hurting’: Ailing knee puts longtime Tigers star Miguel Cabrera’s future in doubt

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Miguel Cabrera doesn’t like to talk about his right knee.

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However, on Thursday, the 39-year-old was not shy about discussing the topic. Several reporters approached Cabrera’s locker at the club after Detroit Tigers DH missed Wednesday’s series finale in Minneapolis. Realizing what’s going on, the 20-year MLB veteran is a baseball hall of fame castle met them in the middle to talk about their health.

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There is a possibility that Cabrera is playing his final season.

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He has not decided on his status for 2023.

“I have to talk to my agent, I have to talk to the CEO (general manager Al Avila), I have to talk to everyone to see what’s in the plan for next year,” Cabrera said. “Right now, we are focused on today. We will work day by day and see what happens. I’m not thinking about next year right now. ‘I will see.”

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Cabrera was owed $32 million by the Tigers for the following season. Over the past two seasons, he has spoken several times about his goal is to win the World Series with tigers and his plan to retire after the conclusion of the contractbut this time it won’t link to 2023.

“I don’t feel good right now,” Cabrera said. “I’m trying to do my best to go out there and play, but right now I’m not feeling very well.”

It has always been a question of “when”, not “if” for the two-time MVP and his aching right knee. He was in 2019, a chronic injury of the right knee was diagnosedbut on the recommendation of four specialists, including sports physician Dr. James Andrews, he decided against the operation.

Cabrera’s knee pain will only get worse over time.

Everyone knew this.

“It’s a chronic condition that he’s going to have to live with and with treatment, you’ll have to get him on the field,” Avila said. said in June 2019. “The bad news, obviously, is that it will only get worse over time. It is his responsibility to stay in good shape, and it is our responsibility to provide him with proper treatment and rest. If you keep up the good work, we can keep him productive on the pitch until the end of his contract, so those are our expectations and hopes.”

Now time is catching up with Cabrera, the third player in MLB history to reach 3000 views, 500 home runs as well as 600 doublesalong with Albert Pujols (who played his final season in 2022) and the late Hank Aaron.

The tire tread wears out.

“The last three weeks have gotten even more painful,” Cabrera said. “I have had this problem for the past three or four years. Now I’m trying to exercise more. I have to deal with it.”

12-time All-Star, including Star Legends Choice 2022 Edition from the Midsummer Classic, posted a .308 batting average in 70 games through July 6, shortly before being named to the team, despite only seven doubles and three home runs.

Since then, Cabrera has hit .132 with two doubles and one home run in 20 games. In total, he has a .271 batting average with nine doubles, four homers, 36 RBIs, 23 walks, and 82 strikeouts in 90 games.

Miguel Cabrera spoke about problems with his knee at a meeting with reporters.
Miguel Cabrera spoke about problems with his knee at a meeting with reporters.

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Cabrera often throws funky backswings and fails to turn his right knee while trying to attack pitches in the batter’s zone. Performing without a healthy back knee means Cabrera, who averaged 33 homers a season from 2004 to 2016, can’t generate power.

“I feel it when I swing,” Cabrera said. “When you see me hitting ground balls to the right side a lot, it’s because of the pain… I’ll try to do more exercises to strengthen the quads or (hamstring) or whatever around the knee. .Let’s see what happens.”

The Tigers are actively approaching the situation, with Cabrera and manager AJ Hinch working together to determine his playing time until the end of the season.

Cabrera and Hinch haven’t talked about 2023, but they’ve mapped out the current homeland at Comerica Park, which will run from Aug. 4 to Aug. 11 with Monday off. Tigers are playing Tampa Bay Rays through Sunday then cleveland Guardians Tuesday through Thursday. The Tigers will reassess Cabrera’s health before preparing his schedule for the second half of August.

“He hurts,” Hinch said. “He doesn’t move well. He plays through the pain.”

Until further notice, Cabrera will be the Tigers’ designated hitter every other day, and when not in the starting lineup, he will be available to strike. The Tigers, as they have been for several years, will monitor his activity on the paths of the base.

For now, the Tigers are hoping that Cabrera can avoid the injured list.

He was listed as injured once – a 10-day deadline in April 2021 due to a left bicep strain – since left biceps tendon rupture in June 2018 sent him on the injured list for 60 days and ended the season.

“I don’t necessarily think it’s a decision,” Hinch said. “If this continues until the end of the month, I think we will have to consider it. But he can give us what he has.”

Cabrera loves to play games, as evidenced by his playful nature on the field, and he spent the 2020 campaign begging the organization to let him return to first base that Hinch, unlike former manager Ron Gardenhair, allowed 44 of his 130 games to play in last season. .

But Cabrera didn’t work at first base in 2022. He happily gave up his infield spot to 22-year-old rookie Spencer Thorkelson, who proudly took the field as the Tigers’ opening day first baseman. In mid-July, the Tigers demoted Thorkelson to Triple-A Toledo, but when that happened, Cabrera did not beg to return to first base.

He also did not resist losing playing time in the last two months of this season due to a lingering knee injury. He said he was willing to give some of his bats to younger players so the Tigers could “see what we got next year.”

“I don’t want to hurt the team,” Cabrera said. “I don’t want to put myself in a bad position. I don’t perform, so I’m fine. I understand it. I’ve always had problems with my knee, so it’s ok. love this team, I don’t want to hurt this team.

“You have to understand your body. I understand my body and my position in this team. I’m still going to work and every time I’m given a chance to play, I’m going to go out there and do my job.” . That’s the point, and that’s what matters.”

All signs point to the end being near for Cabrera, one of the best players ever to wear the Old English “D” on his chest. When the last baseball triple crown winner decided to hang up his boots remains a mystery.

But Cabrera will end up playing his last game.

Maybe sooner than expected.

“I think this is a big step for him, and also a big step for any athlete who starts talking about being physically unable to do things,” Hinch said. “I wouldn’t say it sounded the alarm, but it certainly made this topic more open, which we’ve been talking about behind closed doors for a while.

“I hate that he doesn’t feel very well. He’s been through so much pain in his career that we probably can’t even comprehend, but this time I think it convinced him to be open about it and make sure we’re doing the right thing. thing.”

Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Miguel Cabrera’s future with Detroit Tigers in doubt over knee problem


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