Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus announced that he has no intention of shutting down veteran infielder Miguel Cabrera for the remainder of the regular season, according to pregame comments made on Sunday. Cabrera was removed from Saturday’s 10-4 loss to the White Sox after experiencing a flare-up of lower back tightness. It’s the same injury that sidelined him during spring training in March, and then again in April, August and September. With the Tigers already eliminated from both the division and wild card races, it would make sense to rest Cabrera as the team starts looking toward 2018. So, what gives?
For starters, Ausmus says there’s little benefit to be derived from an extra two weeks on the disabled list. “He’s about to get four months off,” the skipper told reporters. “So four months and two weeks are going to help him?”
Even if an added rest period helped keep Cabrera healthy for the Tigers’ 2018 campaign, there’s no reason to believe that his chronic back problems would be gone for good. In fact, the Tigers appear to believe the opposite. Ausmus reiterated his belief that Cabrera will be dealing with back pain for the remainder of his major league career, and doesn’t think that the injury is severe enough to warrant surgery or other intensive treatment.
Whether or not Ausmus’ premonitions are correct remains to be seen. Cabrera sat against the White Sox on Sunday, stalling his offensive production at a .248/.329/.402 batting line, 16 home runs and a .731 OPS through 507 PA. The Tigers still have seven more years invested in their star slugger, back problems or not. He’ll ride out the tail end of an eight-year, $248-million contract extension in 2023 and will have $30 million vesting options in 2024 and 2025 for his age-41 and age-42 seasons.