Milestones behind him, Miguel Cabrera hopes for fun final year

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LAKELAND, Fla. – Two years ago, Miguel Cabrera hit his 500th home run, and last season he reached 3,000 hits.

Now there’s one more reason for an extended celebration of the Detroit slugger’s career.

This is his final year.

“I’m going to go out there and be me. Try to have fun, try to go out there and, when they give me a chance to play, play. I don’t know what is going to be my role this year,” Cabrera said. “If I can hit, I want to be in the lineup.”

Cabrera sounded at ease with his decision to call it a career when he spoke at spring training Monday, joking with reporters in his usual playful way and insisting he doesn’t need opponents to lavish him with attention. That will likely come whether he wants it or not.

“I brought him up in the first meeting, so that tells you that I didn’t listen to his desire to not be talked about,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’re going to cherish our time with Miggy. We’re also going to let him be a player, a contributor, and just be himself.”

Two decades after his big league debut as a 20-year-old Florida Marlin, Cabrera says he doesn’t remember much about his first spring training – “I have a better car right now” – but he’s hoping for a healthy season and more wins for Detroit.

The Tigers haven’t made the playoffs since 2014, and Cabrera hasn’t had a really excellent season since 2016.

Still, baseball was captivated a year ago when Albert Pujols managed to hit 24 home runs in his last season, surpassing 700 for his career.

Don’t expect a similar chase from Cabrera, if only because he passed so many milestones so recently. He enters this season with 507 homers, 3,088 hits and 607 doubles – not to mention a .308 career average.

“It’s been a thrill to be able to follow him. I feel privileged to have a chance to watch him play days in, day out for so many years, and the joy that he brought us,” said Dave Dombrowski, who is currently the president of the Philadelphia Phillies but ran Detroit’s front office when Cabrera won the Triple Crown and the first of two straight MVPs in 2012.

Dombrowski, who was also with Florida when the Marlins signed a teenaged Cabrera in 1999, says he still exchanges texts with him when he accomplishes something big. There’s certainly plenty of respect for Cabrera around the sport.

Cabrera played in 112 games last season. He said Monday that he feels good physically, but he joked that he’ll have to wait and see how he feels after an 0-for-4 day at the plate. He made it clear that he’s not expecting opponents to roll out the red carpet for him as his playing career winds down.

“It’s nice if they do something. It’s nice if they don’t,” he said. “I don’t want attention, I don’t want any distraction for our team. We look forward to go out there and beat these guys.”

Hinch and the Tigers, however, want to enjoy this final season with him. Cabrera may be in the spotlight sooner than usual, since he’s on Venezuela’s roster for next month’s World Baseball Classic – along with Detroit left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

“It’s just going to be something special,” Rodriguez said. “It’s his last year. We’re going to go to play together in WBC for our country and then play the last season in MLB together. I know it’s going to be great and I can’t wait to enjoy it.”

Rutschman has five hits in opener, Orioles outlast Red Sox 10-9

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BOSTON – The last time Adley Rutschman recalls feeling this level of emotion on a baseball field was playing in front of intimate, 5,000-seat crowds in college at Oregon State.

He trumped that experience at Fenway Park on Thursday in his first career opening day start.

“This blows that out of the water,” Rutschman said.

Rutschman became the first catcher in major league history with five hits in an opener, and the Baltimore Orioles survived a wild ninth inning to beat the Boston Red Sox 10-9.

“To have that close game in the ninth inning and the crowd get so loud. You kind of sit there and say, ‘This is pretty cool,’” said Rutschman, the top overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Rutschman – who debuted for the Orioles last May and quickly became indispensable to the young, resurgent club – homered in his first at-bat and finished 5-for-5 with a career-best four RBIs and a walk on a chilly day at Fenway Park, with a temperature of 38 degrees at first pitch.

Ramon Urias hit a two-run homer for Baltimore, which finished with 15 hits, nine walks and five stolen bases.

Kyle Gibson (1-0) allowed four runs and six hits over five-plus innings to earn his first opening-day victory since his 2021 All-Star season with Texas. Gibson gave up an RBI groundout in the first inning before retiring nine straight Red Sox hitters.

The Orioles nearly gave the game away in the ninth.

With Baltimore leading 10-7, closer Félix Bautista walked pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia. Alex Verdugo followed with a single and advanced to second on an error by center fielder Cedric Mullins.

Rafael Devers struck out. Justin Turner then reached on an infield single to third when Urias’ throw was wide, scoring Tapia. Masataka Yoshida grounded to shortstop Jorge Mateo, who stepped on second for the force but threw wildly to first, allowing Verdugo to score.

Bautista struck out Adam Duvall on three pitches to end it and earn the save.

The Orioles scored four runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to take an 8-2 lead. Baltimore led 10-4 before Bryan Baker allowed three runs in the eighth to give the Red Sox some hope.

The eighth could have been even better for the Red Sox had Devers, who led off the inning, not become the first player in major league history to strike out on a pitch clock violation. Devers was looking down and kicking debris off his cleats when umpire Lance Barksdale signaled a violation that resulted in strike three.

“There’s no excuse,” said Alex Cora, who dropped to 0-5 in opening-day games as Boston’s manager. “They know the rules.”

Boston offseason addition and two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (0-1) struggled in his Fenway debut, surrendering five runs on six hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.

“Less than ideal,” Kluber said. “Didn’t turn out the way I would have hoped for.”


Red Sox: Christian Arroyo stayed in the game after taking an inadvertent cleat to the side of his head in the second inning. Arroyo was applying a tag to Rutschman at second base as he attempted to stretch out a single. Rutschman’s leg flipped over as he slid awkwardly. … LHP James Paxton was placed on the 15-day inured list (retroactive to March 27) with a strained right hamstring.


Rutschman, one of six Baltimore players making his first opening-day appearance, became the youngest Oriole to homer in his first opening-day at-bat since Cal Ripken Jr. in 1984.


The Orioles took advantage of MLB’s bigger bases – going from 15- to 18-inch squares – that are being used for the first time this season. Baltimore hadn’t stolen five bases in a game since last June 24 against the White Sox. Mullins and Jorge Mateo swiped two bags apiece, and Adam Frazier got a huge jump on his steal against reliever Ryan Brasier. There was nothing Boston catcher Reese McGuire could do to stop them and on the majority of Baltimore’s steals, he didn’t bother to throw.


Right-hander Kaleb Ort and Tapia earned Boston’s final two roster spots to open the season. Tapia got the nod over Jarren Duran, who was sent down to Triple-A Worcester. Ort pitched a scoreless sixth with one strikeout Thursday.


Orioles: RHP Dean Kremer will make is sixth career start against Boston when the three-game series resumes on Saturday. In 11 road starts last season, he went 5-3 with a 3.63 ERA.

Red Sox: LHP Chris Sale, who has pitched in only 11 games over the past three years due to injuries, is set to begin his seventh season in Boston.