Cabrera says meaningless baseball is ‘no fun at all’

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Minneapolis — A night off for Miguel Cabrera. Actually, with the off-day Thursday, he will have two full days to rest and regroup.

“He’s just a tick off,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Pretty standard when a guy struggles, and even the best hitter on the planet struggles.”

Cabrera is in the throes of an 0-for-19 skid — third worst of his career. He’s hitting .192 in September, with a .231 slugging percentage. He hasn’t hit a home run since Aug. 26 and just two since he came off the disabled list on Aug.14.

Before the game Wednesday, Cabrera admitted that his struggles were more mental than physical. Asked if he was having any fun, he said, “I mean, to me, no. The past two or three weeks, no. It’s no fun at all. It’s hard, man, when you lose a lot of games and all the stuff happens this year. It’s kind of hard, but we need to keep pushing.

“We have a big series at home (starting Friday). We’re going to give something back to the fans, trying to play good baseball. I think we have to focus on that — trying to win this game, get some rest tomorrow and focus on what we can do in the last 10 games at home.”

He said he doesn’t have any physical ailments, but he has fallen into some bad habits at the plate.

“It can be tough,” he said. “It’s kind of like you create bad habits because we know we don’t go anywhere, but we try to push ourselves too much. When we make mistakes, we want to do extra and we want to do something we don’t have to.

“What we need to do is play hard, try to go out there and make it happen. Stop trying to push too hard.”

His batting average has fallen from .350 to .336, but he still has a sizeable lead in the race for the batting title. Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is second at .321. But winning a fourth batting title, he said, feels empty with the team in last place.

“No, but something like ... (the batting title) is over there, but it’s hard when you’re losing games,” he said. “It’s hard to focus on what you want and what the team wants, because if the team’s not doing good, you know you’re not going to do good.”

Cabrera had an 0-for-23 skid in 2012, the year he won the Triple Crown, so this isn’t unprecedented.

“He’s human,” Ausmus said. “When a guy hits .350, he doesn’t hit .350 every day, all year long. He’s going to have runs when he’s hitting better than .350 and runs when he’s hitting below .350.”

Several players have talked about using the final few weeks of the season to set a tone for the offseason and into spring training. Cabrera agrees with that, especially in terms of setting an example for the younger players.

“Yeah, that’s what we need to do right now,” he said. “We need to find a way they can learn how to win some games, how to be a winning team next year. We have to figure out that. We have to figure it out together.

“We’re going through a rough time, trying to get out of there and trying to be ready for next year.”