'I don't play that game': Tigers' Miguel Cabrera fires back at sign-tipping accusations

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
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Chicago — You never know with Miguel Cabrera. Usually when he’s talking to players on the field, it’s with good humor and playfulness.

So when he started talking and pointing back toward White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal as he was returning to the batter’s box after a foul ball in the sixth inning Tuesday night, it was hard to know if he was doing so playfully.

Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera says he doesn't steal signs.

He was not.

“He (Madrigal) was trying to say we were passing signs,” Cabrera said before the game Wednesday. “It’s bulls***. I don’t play that game. You need to show respect. You don’t need to show me up or the guy on second base by trying to say we were passing signs. Come on.”

Robbie Grossman was on second base. Cabrera had hit a 445-foot home run with the bases empty in the first inning off Lucas Giolito. And he singled in that at-bat in the sixth. But he delivered his message clearly — he didn't get any cheat codes from second base.

“It’s not right,” he said. “I don’t care why they do it, but they need to stop. Because we don’t play that game. That’s why I say something. Everyone is paranoid about all that stuff, but that’s over the limit. They need to respect because if they say that, then the next day there’s going to be hit-by-pitch or something like that.

“We don’t play that game. We respect the game.”

More: Tigers, Miguel Cabrera to help state promote COVID-19 vaccine

White Sox manager Tony La Russa discussed Cabrera’s comments on his Zoom with the Chicago media.

“Miguel is a guaranteed Hall of Famer,” La Russa said. “He’s earned the respect that if he says he was not getting help from second base, then he wasn’t getting it.”

But, La Russa did not apologize for Madrigal’s vigilance.

“We do encourage our middle infielders to actively guard against that,” he said. “That is a ridiculously popular thing to do now, and has been for a long time. Signs that you learned from your study or tipping location — but that’s OK. That’s part of the game.

“If Nick was actively defending against that, I’m all for it. But I give Miggy the respect he deserves. If he says he doesn’t get them, then he doesn’t get them.”

STALKING THE BABE

With his two hits Tuesday, Cabrera needs just one more to tie Babe Ruth for 45th all-time with 2,873.

“I don’t ever really think of that, but it’s really cool to be next to Baby Ruth,” Cabrera said. “I mean, that’s awesome. Never in my life was I thinking I would get that many hits. I’ve been blessed. I thank God every day for the opportunity. I never take this for granted.”

The home run pulled him within 11 of the 500 milestone and he needs four more to catch Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff. He needs one more double to tie Robin Yount for 21st all-time (583).

“These names are big,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “It’s almost intimidating to think about all you have to do just to get in position to do those things. These are names that are attached to the whole legacy of the sport.”

Hinch said Cabrera’s milestone climb is giving him a chance to give history lessons to some of the younger players.

“He’s going to catch Robin Yount in doubles – I don’t know if our players know how good Robin Yount was in his day,” Hinch said. “We are going to cherish these names as they come across the board and we’re going to tell guys like Akil (Baddoo) and Candy (Jeimer Candelario), who is way into what Miggy is doing, and educate them on some of these names.

“But nobody has to educate them about Babe Ruth. That name is stamped across the history of the game.”

FEELING HEALTHY AGAIN

Cabrera said the left biceps strain that put him on the injured list for 11 days frustrated him.

“It was really bad the first weeks of the season,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t know what happened. I was feeling really good (coming out of spring training), but I felt something  in the second game of the season. It was bothering me game to game and we decided to stop and take care of it.

“But it was frustrating for me. The last five years I’ve been injured a lot. It’s no fun to play like that.”

After striking out three times in his first game back on Sunday, Cabrera has gone 3 for 7 with two RBIs in the last two games.  

AROUND THE HORN

…Hinch said right-hander Michael Fulmer would be available out of the bullpen Wednesday and Thursday. Lefty Tarik Skubal will get the start Friday against the Yankees in New York. Spencer Turnbull and José Ureña will also work in the Yankees series.

…All told, Ureña got White Sox hitters to hit 20 balls on the ground Tuesday night. Ten were outs and four were double-play balls. That’s a single-game high for him and it’s second most in Tigers’ history — three behind A.J. Sager, now the Tigers roving pitching coordinator, who rolled 23 ground balls on July 15, 1996. Ureña’s 20 ties Nate Cornejo, who induced 20 ground ball on Aug. 26, 2003.

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

Tigers at White Sox

8:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: BSDet, 97.1

Scouting report:

LHP Matthew Boyd (2-2, 1.82), Tigers: He’s averaging seven full innings and going for his fifth straight quality start. His strikeout numbers are down, but his soft-contact and efficiency numbers are off the charts. Of the 101 batted balls against him, only five have had exit velocities of 95 mph or better. He’s throwing 74 percent first-pitch strikes and has a strike percentage of 46.5.

RHP Dylan Cease (0-0, 4.15), White Sox: Tigers need to bring their patience to the plate Thursday. Cease, who led the American League with 34 walks last year, is still fighting his command. He’s walked 12 in 17.1 innings and hasn’t gotten out of the fifth inning in any of his four starts.

--Chris McCosky

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