Detroit — Miguel Cabrera was asked before Tuesday night's game how close he was to being able to return to the Tigers’ lineup.
“Very close,” he said.
A matter of days?
“Days,” he said.
The hamstring strain that has kept Cabrera out of the lineup since May 4 is mostly healed. The last step in the healing process is conditioning. He is working to get himself back into game shape.
“He realizes he’s not in the best of shape to be able to stand out there for nine innings right now,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We have to give him a few more days. He’s just starting to feel good enough where he can go out and do some of these drills.”
Cabrera went through an intense battery of agility and base running drills on Monday. And Gardenhire said his body was sore from that on Tuesday, which is why all he did was take batting practice before the game.
“I have to go easy today,” Cabrera said. “I have to rest my legs. It’s about conditioning right now. I have to see how I feel in the morning and then do some conditioning work again. Then we will see after that. Hopefully I can play. But we have to be careful.”
Although from what Gardenhire said, it sounds like Cabrera won’t be ready to play in the Angels series. If there are no setbacks, it’s more likely he will return this weekend against the Blue Jays.
“There is no timetable,” Gardenhire said. “When he tells us he’s ready. We’re putting that on his shoulders. Nobody can tell him how he feels. All we can do is have him do all the running and make sure nothing else is going on. He does get a little stiff (full body) after he runs. So we’re not there yet.
“When he tells us he feels great after he runs – when he comes back the next day and he tells us he feels great – then we will go.”
Tigers relievers Joe Jimenez and Daniel Stumpf had both worked in 28 games entering play Tuesday, second most in the Major Leagues.
Stumpf, who typically only faces a one or two batters, has worked just 17.1 innings. Jimenez, who has been the eighth-inning set-up man, has worked 25.1 innings.
“I would say if they throw me more, that’s good for me,” said Jimenez, who had not allowed an earned run in his last nine outings (8.1 innings). “I get used to it. I’m ready every day. If I go a few days without throwing, I feel bad. The more I work, the better it is for my body.”
Stumpf has said the same thing – the more he works, the sharper he feels.
Gardenhire and pitching coach Chris Bosio are keeping a close eye on the workload.
“I’ve done this my whole life,” Gardenhire said. “It’s about the number of pitches, including warm-ups and all those things. They all get marked down and Boz has his charts. Every day he gives me a list of who is available and who is not.
“Good relievers, they pitch. As long as you can keep the workload down – like not throwing them for two innings or 40 pitches – then you are OK. We are very careful about those things, very careful.”
Angels manager Mike Scioscia went into the game Tuesday needing one win to reach 1,600 for his career – all with the Angels. He would pass former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. Gardenhire was asked for his reaction: “When I got 1,000 wins, Terry Francona said, ‘That’s just because he’s managed a long time,’” he said. “I thought that was hilarious and I thought there was a lot of background behind that.
“He’s a good manager and you have to tip your cap to him, that he could survive that long, especially with one ballclub. That’s pretty cool.”
ANGELS AT TIGERS
First pitch: 7:10 p.m. Wednesday
TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM
RHP Shohei Ohtani, Angels (4-1, 3.35): It’ll be 10 days between starts as the Angels try to regulate his innings. He will throw his four-seam fastball (average velocity 98 mph) 46 percent of the time and a nasty, virtually unhittable splitter (88) 24 percent of the time. He’s allowed one hit in 60-some at-bats with the splitter this year.
RHP Mike Fiers (4-3, 4.78), Tigers: He has allowed four runs and didn’t get into the sixth inning in his last two starts. In the month of May, he’s allowed 16 runs in 26.1 innings and opponents are hitting .288 with an .891 OPS against him. Left-handed hitters this season have hit seven of the 11 homers he’s allowed and are slugging .543 off him.