Tigers' Miguel Cabrera: Fans don't appreciate efforts to play hurt

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — It was 3.5 hours before Tuesday’s game and Miguel Cabrera was right on that edge between being playful and angry.

His blood got up some when a reporter asked about Robinson Cano, who on Tuesday was suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s policy against performance enhancing drugs. Cabrera vigorously defended Cano, saying he was prescribed something by a doctor to treat a medical condition.

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.

And he was still semi-hot when the questions turned to his own medical condition. He was putting on baseball pants and getting ready for another round of treatment for a hamstring strain that has subsequently caused stiffness in his legs, hips and back.

“When you are tight here,” he said, pointing to his hamstring, “your back is tight. It’s all the same thing.”

He was eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but doesn’t appear anywhere near ready. He has yet to be cleared for baseball activity, nor has he run at all on the field.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked when he might start doing some baseball stuff. “I don’t want to rush it.”

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Cabrera’s health struggles last season — trying to play despite two herniated discs in his back — have left a scar, there is no doubt about that. He is going to be supremely cautious with this injury.

“I went through a lot last year, so I don’t want to do the same thing,” he said. “Nobody appreciates when you play hurt. I’m going to take my time and play when I am good. I played a lot of years hurt here in Detroit. They (fans) don’t appreciate that.

“When you are doing bad, they crush you. They crush you. They say you are bad. They say you should go home. You don’t deserve anything. You are old. So I say, OK, I’m done playing hurt. Now I am going to take my time.”

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The Tigers are encouraging him to take it slow.

“He’s not ready,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He has to go through some things to get on the field and be able to run. Right now he’s just been running on the treadmill. We have to be very careful here. We have to make sure we get it right so when he comes back he’s not dealing with anything.”

The back tightness was revealed Monday night.

“I’m hearing people talk about back pain,” Gardenhire said. “He’s going to have that all the time when you are going through exercises and doing all this stuff. He’s getting stretched like you can’t believe. But he feels good and he’s working his way to getting back on the field.”

His recovery has yet to get to the point where the hamstring can be fully tested.

“We’ve not seen him going out and doing a lot of running,” Gardenhire said. “That’s the next step. We’re hoping to get him out and running in the next couple of days.”

Gardenhire said it has yet to be determined whether Cabrera would go on the upcoming two-city trip.

“If we think there’s a chance that he could do some things and have a chance to come off (the DL), then we’ll take him, for sure,” Gardenhire said. “We have to make those decisions here tonight or tomorrow.”

That Cabrera is getting snarly, though, is typically a good sign. He’s champing at the bit to get back.