Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera left Saturday’s game with another case of lower back tightness, the team announced. It’s the fifth time the veteran slugger has been sidelined with back pain this season and very well could be the last, though he’s expected to be day-to-day for the time being.
Cabrera lasted just four innings against the White Sox, going 0-for-2 before he was pulled prior to the start of the fifth inning. No specific event appeared to trigger the injury, but he was left flailing at the plate against right-hander Reynaldo Lopez and went 0-for-2 before John Hicks relieved him in the top of the fifth inning. Hicks, meanwhile, collected a single in his first at-bat of the night and was left stranded after Lopez induced back-to-back outs from Nicholas Castellanos and Jeimer Candelario.
It’s been a rough season for Cabrera and doesn’t figure to get any easier as the regular season winds down. He’s batting .249/.331/.404 with 16 home runs and a .734 OPS after missing 44 days to various injuries and another six days to a lengthy suspension for participating in the Yankees-Tigers brawl last month. While the severity of his most recent injury remains to be determined, it’s not preposterous to suggest that he might not return to the field in 2017. The last time he was derailed with a back injury, he missed a full 18 days without landing on the DL. The Tigers don’t have that kind of time at this point in the year, and a playoff run is well out of reach thanks to the Indians’ 22-game surge.
Back in August, club manager Brad Ausmus pointed out that Cabrera’s lingering health issues would likely be an ongoing problem, especially with no clear root cause and no clear path to an effective treatment. “Quite frankly, I think he’s going to have to deal with it the rest of his career,” he told reporters. So far, that prediction doesn’t seem to be off the mark.