Tigers manager Hinch keeping a wary eye on Cabrera's on-field workload

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
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Lakeland, Fla. — It didn’t take but a day or two for new Tigers’ manager AJ Hinch to figure out what previous managers already learned: If you don’t schedule Miguel Cabrera off the baseball field, he won’t ever leave.

Cabrera, a month and a half shy of 38, has been his usual effervescent self this week. He’s been bouncing around at first base — heck, he was literally dancing on the field Wednesday — taking reps, doing all the drill work, even the baserunning work. You love to see it, but as a manager who hopes to write the name Miguel Cabrera in the lineup 150-plus games this year, you also worry about it.

Miguel Cabrera hits first base on base-running drills.

“Yeah I found out quickly if you don’t lay it out for him, he’s going to try to do everything,” Hinch said. “He wants to be out there and enjoy everything.”

Hinch put together a program for Cabrera, a daily calendar of events. Typically, infielders work at two defensive stations every morning — one station early in the workout and then another during batting practice rotation.

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Cabrera does just one of the two per day.

“It’s a way for us to control the volume,” Hinch said. “He’s certainly earned that, and also we have a really good program for him. You have to strike that balance between preparing him to be on his feet whether that be in the DH position or at first base.”

The Trammell impact

Shortstop Zack Short’s indoctrination into the Tigers’ organization was a bit harsh. With no minor-league season last summer, he was sitting at home and working out on his own, when he learned he’d been traded from the Cubs to the Tigers for Cameron Maybin.

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Before he could blink, he was on his way to the Tigers’ alternate site in Toledo. The upside, though, he got to take instruction from Hall of Famer Alan Trammell.

“It was awesome,” Short said. “I was kind of starstruck. I met him briefly in the (Arizona) Fall League, but I just tried to stay out of his way. But we got there and he was like, ‘We’ve got early work is so-and-so minutes.’ It was like, ‘Wow, I get to work with Alan Trammell today, pretty cool.’”

Trammell worked with Short, Spencer Torkelson and the other infielders assigned to Toledo last summer. Those conversations still resonate with Short, especially now that Hinch has asked him to play second base and third base, in addition to short.

“(Trammell) is so eager to help,” Short said. “He’s so engaged. It’s so rewarding for him, I think, to see younger guys do well. You see him, he’s so fired up at 7:30, 8 o’clock in the morning. It’s just so cool to learn from somebody like him.

“Around baseball, there’s a bunch of great guys, but you don’t really have Hall-of-Famers helping you out, one-on-one, if it’s in Toledo or now in spring training.”

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Short is in a crowded group — Harold Castro, Greg Garcia, Isaac Paredes — fighting to make the club as an extra infielder. Most likely, he's going to get regular work at shortstop at Triple-A Toledo. 

Around the horn

The Tigers are hopeful of at least a couple more players will be cleared to start camp by the end of this weekend. That would include right-handed pitcher Julio Teheran and third baseman Paredes. Paredes, while he finishes up his five-day quarantine, has been able to work out at the facility in the afternoon. “The hope is that you can be a little bit more prepared once you come to camp so you can get on the field right away,” Hinch said. “I don’t want to wait four or five more days to have you on the field.”

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

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