Gardenhire pulls Cabrera in ninth with lower-back stiffness

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — We learned something about the way Ron Gardenhire is managing the Tigers on Tuesday night, specifically how he’s managing Miguel Cabrera.

When it comes to protecting Cabrera’s health and getting him off the field, he’s not taking no for an answer, nor is the issue up for debate.

Gardenhire pulled Cabrera in the ninth inning Tuesday after Cabrera had complained of lower-back stiffness.

“He was a little stiff and it was so cold, I just told him that’s enough, take a hike,” Gardenhire said. “I put Jonesy (JaCoby Jones) in left and moved Goody (Niko Goodrum) in to play first. That’s always been the plan and it will be the plan late in games.

“If we get an opportunity, we’ll get him off the field — especially on these cold nights. We want him to be able to play (all season).”

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Asked if there was push-back from Cabrera on coming out of the game, Gardenhire said there was none.

“They said Miggy was a little tight, it came from him and the trainer,” he said. “And I got him out. That’s an automatic. I don’t want him to push it. I told him that all along, just be honest with me and we will go from there — and we will keep you playing all year.”

Cabrera also told Gardenhire that it’s less stressful on his back to play the field than it is to be the designated hitter. Gardenhire had been using spot DH starts as a way of giving Cabrera a partial day off.

“He said he’s better playing than DHing,” Gardenhire said. “He says he feels better when he’s moving around. But it’s just so stinking cold, we’ve got to work our way through it.”

Cabrera is expected to be back in the lineup this afternoon. @cmccosky