Tigers’ Cabrera still bothered by back pain

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — From the sound of it, Miguel Cabrera is dealing with something a bit more severe than a routine stiff back. In fact, he wasn’t ready to make any predictions about when he might return to the lineup.

“I don’t know,” he said Thursday afternoon. “I hurt my back the first (WBC) game in Mexico. Out there, long game, and I felt a pop in the right side (pointing to lower lat area). After that, it affected more toward my left side. That’s where I feel it more.”

He said he’s felt better the last couple of days, though he continues to take daily treatment.

Cabrera, between the WBC games and the exhibition games he played before he left, has more than 60 at-bats this spring. From that standpoint, he’s more than ready to start the season — provided the back comes around.

He was asked if he’d be ready to play opening day, even if he doesn’t play in another spring game?

“I don’t know; you never know,” he said. “I will play when I am ready to play. If I can play tomorrow, I will play tomorrow. But I am not worried about that right now. I am worried about getting my back good and making sure I am 100 percent.”

Manager Brad Ausmus initially said the earliest Cabrera would play would be Friday, but that’s doubtful now.

“He told me he was going to take some soft-toss today,” Ausmus said. “When he says he’s ready, we’ll put him on the field and see if he can hit batting practice. And if he’s fine a day later, then he’ll play.

“He’s got plenty of at-bats under his belt. As long as he can play part of next week, he’ll be fine.”

The injury was only part of Cabrera’s WBC disappointment. Team Venezuela barely got out of the first round and didn’t make it to the semifinals in Los Angeles.

“It was different,” he said. “It was a lot of pressure because we feel like we needed to win the tournament. There was a lot of expectations and we came up short. We didn’t live up to the expectations. We weren’t able to turn it around quick and we lost the last two games.”

He didn’t say it, but it may have been his last WBC tournament. He will be 37 the next time the WBC rolls around

“It was good, but when you hurt something, I hurt my back on the first day,” he said. “You don’t want to play like that. But it’s a good tournament to get you going.”