Leyland: Seeing Miguel Cabrera play hurt “kind of breaks your heart”

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Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera played with a sore groin throughout most of the second half of the season, limiting his ability to defend his Triple Crown. The soreness has continued to bother him throughout the post-season both at the plate and defensively at third base. Opposing teams have considered attacking him with bunts, but Cabrera has adjusted by playing way up on the grass against speedier players. He is hitting .278 with one home run in the ALCS against the Red Sox after hitting .250 with one homer in the ALDS against the Athletics.

Manager Jim Leyland laments that Cabrera isn’t fully healthy, depriving fans of seeing one of this generation’s greatest hitters. Via Tim Healey of WEEI:

“It’s really a shame, to be honest with you, for the whole baseball world because they’re not getting a chance to see him at his best,” Leyland said of Cabrera. “This time of year, people are turning on the TV, they love to see these guys. Obviously I think he’s the best player in the league. To not be able to see him at his best because of a physical ailment, it hurts a little bit, but that’s just the way it is. You have to live with those things.”

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“It kind of breaks your heart, to be honest with you, to see him out there the way he has to be out there and the way he is right now because you know he’s hurting,” Leyland added later. “Everybody is conscientious these days about people earning their money. You talk about somebody who is earning their money, this guy feels like he owes it to the Detroit Tigers and our fans to be out there”

Should the Tigers get pushed out of the playoffs, either in Game 6 or Game 7, it won’t be the fault of Cabrera’s ailing groin, however. While he may be injured, he has still been among the more productive Tigers hitters. First baseman Prince Fielder has just four hits in 19 at-bats in the ALCS, none of them homers. Torii Hunter is hitting .217. Austin Jackson has five hits, all singles. Omar Infante is hitting .176.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.

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Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.