Detroit — The first order of business this offseason for Miguel Cabrera, as he said Tuesday, “No more arepas!”
He broke out laughing, but he was serious. Where last offseason he was recovering from biceps surgery and in the two offseasons before that he was dealing with the after-effects of core muscle surgery — this offseason, as his chronically painful right knee kept him out of the lineup for a third straight game, his primary focus will be on general conditioning and weight loss.
“He has to take a little bit a weight off that knee,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “That’s what the trainers have said. That will probably help it. He’s going to work hard, try to lose weight and see if that will help.”
Cabrera said he will have the knee examined by three different specialists immediately after the season — one in New York, another in Miami and a third in a location he couldn’t remember. With his condition, essentially bone-on-bone in the knee joint, surgery is not an option.
“I am going to see these doctors who have treated my knee in the past,” Cabrera said. “We will see if they can give me a better idea of what I’m going to do.”
Cabrera, 36, has had cortisone shots in the knee at least twice this season and PRP (platelet-rich plasma) treatment is another possibility, though Cabrera said that had not yet been discussed.
“I know surgery doesn’t help with this,” he said. “I don’t know, but they are going to do something.”
Cabrera on Tuesday said the knee was feeling better and he planned to test it during batting practice. He has no plans to shut it down for the rest of the season, and expects to return to the lineup Wednesday.
But the topic of ending Cabrera’s season now has been discussed by Gardenhire and general manager Al Avila.
“That’s a conversation I am going to have with Miggy,” Gardenhire said. “I’ve had that conversation with Al, and he said it’s whatever (Cabrera) wants to do. It’s not on me. If he wants to play in some games, fine. If he wants to just stay here and not play — that’s going to be up to him.
“The trainers haven’t said anything about that. He’s doing his normal stuff; he’s just been sore for a couple of days.”
Regardless of what treatments are prescribed for this offseason, Cabrera knows shedding some weight will be a prerequisite for the two things he wants most next season — to stay healthy and return to first base, at least on a part-time basis.
“It was like, playing with this these last four or five months gave me a better idea about what I need to do for next year,” Cabrera said. “If I can come in strong and in better shape, I think I will be able to do a little bit more.
“But I will see what the doctors say about what might work, what can I work, what kind of workout can I do to get in better shape and be 100 percent next year.”
Essentially hitting with no leg drive, Cabrera’s power numbers (10 home runs, .391 slugging) are a career-low for a full season. But he leads the Tigers with 136 hits and has a .285 average and a .350 on-base percentage.
Adding punch in 2020?
Gardenhire was asked before the game if he thought Avila would consider dipping into the free-agent market for a proven, veteran bat to the mix for 2020?
“We’ve talked about a lot of different things — a run-producer,” Gardenhire said. “We talked about trying to find a run-producer, just depending on what positions are open. But those aren’t easy to find and they cost a lot of money.”
The list of free agent hitters likely to be in the Tigers’ price range is thin. A player like Marcell Ozuna would be a nice fit, but he’s making $12.5 million this season with the Cardinals. Avisail Garcia, the former Tiger, will be a free agent, as well. He made $3.5 million this year.
“One thing we know, we aren’t going to go out there and spend a lot of money on one guy,” Gardenhire said. “We will probably want to spread it around a little bit in different areas. We will probably see a lot of young kids in spring training. That’d be my guess.”
Rotation wide open
Hall of Famer and FSD analyst Jack Morris asked about the candidates to be in his starting rotation next season and Gardenhire nearly spit up laughing.
“Tryout camp,” he said. “Everybody put their name in a hat — the guys who are here and maybe a few more down there (Triple-A Toledo).”
Again, how the rotation ultimately shakes out will depend on whether Avila taps the free-agent market, as he has with mixed success the last two offseasons. Matthew Boyd (barring a trade), Jordan Zimmermann and Spencer Turnbull likely would go to camp as projected starters.
Daniel Norris, Drew VerHagen, Tyler Alexander, Matt Hall, Zac Reininger and possibly Kyle Funkhouser and Beau Burrows would be among the names in that hat. Avila and Gardenhire already have ruled out rushing any of the top pitching prospects (Matt Manning, Casey Mize, Alex Faedo, Tarik Skubal) to the big leagues early next season.
Michael Fulmer, who missed the season after Tommy John surgery, isn’t due back until after the All-Star break, at the earliest.
“We will just see what happens next spring,” Gardenhire said.
Twins at Tigers
► First pitch: 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, Comerica Park, Detroit
► TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM
► LHP Daniel Norris (3-12, 4.58), Tigers: Even though he’s been on an innings restriction the last month, Norris has established himself as part of the plan for 2020, and just in the nick of time, since he is out of minor-league options. The question going forward will be where he fits — bullpen or rotation. What, if anything, the Tigers do in free agency will help answer that question.
► The Twins starting pitcher has yet to be announced.