Cabrera Sidelined At Least a Week

After extensive evaluation, Miguel Cabrera will miss at least a week, and his status for Opening Day is up in the air, after a grounder to the right eye caused a small fracture in addition to eight stitches. But, it could have been much worse.

3B Miguel Cabrera is likely to miss a couple of weeks after suffering a small break in the bone under his right eye when struck by a hard grounder Monday.

Cabrera received eight stitches and told ESPN that he would be re-examined in a week.

The team said that his vision is OK.

Cabrera is shifting back to third base this spring because the Tigers signed first baseman Prince Fielder.

Cabrera, the American League's batting average leader in 2011, was hit during the first inning against Philadelphia at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. A one-hopper hit by Hunter Pence struck Cabrera, who left the game with a towel on his face. Cabrera also underwent precautionary X-rays, according to the team.

Cabrera, who will turn 29 next month, has led the AL in on-base percentage the last two years. The six-time All-Star hit a career-best .344 in 2011, which included an AL-best 48 doubles, and added 30 home runs and 105 RBI, ranking 10th and sixth, respectively, in those categories. He also drew a career-best 108 walks, ranking second in the AL. This spring, Cabrera has hit .433 with one homer and four RBI in 30 at-bats while moving to third base to accommodate the arrival of Prince Fielder at first.

NOTES, QUOTES

--1B Prince Fielder picked a good time to hit one of his spring home runs, when the boss was watching. Fielder hit a two-run home run March 14 with Tigers' owner Mike Ilitch among the spectators. "I saw it go out and I said, 'Oh, wow, that's worth $214 million,'" said Ilitch, who is paying Fielder that amount of money over the next nine years. "To win, you have to have stars. And, for public appeal, you have to have stars." Ilitch noted that Fielder has fit in well with his teammates. "We don't have a hotdog on the team," Ilitch said. "They get along so well. We have great chemistry and that's a nice feeling."

--RHP Justin Verlander appears to be in midseason form and it isn't even the middle of the exhibition season. Verlander struck out eight in 3 2/3 innings of his third spring start. He has allowed one run, a leadoff home run, and one walk in his first 9 2/3 spring innings. "The first three starts have worked out all right, but there's still some things to work on," Verlander said. "I still didn't get in the groove I wanted. I had a bunch of strikeouts, but that led to more pitches. They were 2-2 and 3-2 (pitch) strikeouts, opposed to 0-2 and 1-2. There's a few extra pitches in there that I need to cut down on." Verlander has concentrated on his off-speed pitches rather than only throwing fastballs this spring.

--RHP Jacob Turner suffered a setback in his bid to be Detroit's rookie starter when he was ordered shut down through at least the weekend due to right shoulder tendinitis. Turner has had control and velocity problems this spring and was examined after getting thumped in his second start. "We're taking precautions," trainer Kevin Rand said. "We'll shut him down for a week and try to get his full range of motion back." "For me, this is just a burp. He's a young pitcher who's got his whole future ahead of him," manager Jim Leyland said. "Please don't print that Turner's out of the running, because he's not. Does it lessen his chances somewhat? I would think common sense would tell you all that without asking me that." "It's not the plan you want to go on," Turner said. "But at the same time, you want to get it taken care of now so that it doesn't affect you during the season. Obviously, it's frustrating. But you want to get done with it now. Get it out of the way and hopefully you don't have to worry about it during the season." Turner, 20, was Detroit's first-round draft choice in 2009.

--LHP Andy Oliver seems to be finding that less is more in terms of how much effort he puts into throwing a fastball. "I talked to him and he told me he's not trying to go at it quite so hard," manager Jim Leyland said. "When he does, it's harder for him to slow down and get under control. Then he can put on a little more (velocity) when he's in that groove. I think his overall approach is better. He's starting to figure some things out." Oliver had a three-walk inning but otherwise has shown much better control than he did for Triple-A Toledo last season. He did not allow a run in his first two exhibition games. "His breaking ball is better, his composure is better," Leyland said. "I'm very pleased with him so far. He's just got to keep it going."

--2B Ryan Raburn has made some changes in an effort to avoid getting off to another sluggish start to the season. Raburn has greatly reduced the time he spends in hitting cages and has been rewarded by being among the spring leaders in home runs, RBI and extra base hits. For example, on a recent day off Raburn took only 15 swings in the cage rather than wearing himself out with practice. "We're stressing quality time in the cage, not the amount of time spent there," hitting coach Lloyd McClendon said. "That's been a big difference for Ryan." Of course, the test will come when Raburn isn't hitting well. "If my swing didn't feel right, I'd go to the cage," Raburn said. "And if I didn't find it right away, I'd swing some more. I thought it was the way to get it back. I'll go back there when there's something to find. But it won't be like it used to be."

--C Gerald Laird, entering his second season as a backup, has been trying to make changes to his swing in an effort to be a more productive hitter. He hit .207 in his last season with Detroit and .232 with St. Louis last season. "I'm not feeling as good as I'd like to be, but it's helping my timing," Laird said. "It's going to be a good adjustment, but I just have to stay with it. It's not going to happen overnight." He's trying to shorten his swing and stop trying to hit home runs. "It allows me to hit more line drives for singles and base hits," Laird said of his new swing. "I'm not trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark, I'm just trying to square it up and find holes."

--RF Brennan Boesch was a lineup scratch on March 14 because of a back muscle twinge, but returned to the lineup the next day. "I'm good," Boesch said. "It's just one of those things that happens in the spring. Just a little spasm, and I'm back. It's gone and I feel good. I'm not trying to compete (for a roster spot). So when that soreness stuff happens, you make an intelligent decision and you take a day (off)."

--LHP Casey Crosby was optioned to Triple-A Toledo on March 15, but made a favorable impression on manager Jim Leyland. "To me, he has as high a ceiling as anyone in this camp," Leyland said after Crosby gave up four runs (one unearned) in and six walks in 5 2/3 exhibition innings over three games. "He's potentially a blue-chipper, without question." Crosby, 23, has a high-90s fastball, a power curve and developing changeup. He's missed two seasons since signing out of high school, one because of a sore elbow and before because of Tommy John surgery. He had control problems last year pitching at Double-A Erie. "He didn't do anything wrong," Leyland said. "It was just a case of let's get him over there (minor league complex) and get him in there every five days."

--RHP David Pauley was released by Detroit on March 12, giving him some time to catch on with another team. He was ineffective after being acquired from Seattle by Detroit along with RHP Doug Fister at the July trade deadline. Pauley was 5-4 with a 2.15 ERA in 39 games for the Mariners, but just 0-2 with a 5.95 ERA in 14 games with the Tigers. "We tried to give him every opportunity, but sometimes, things just don't work out," manager Jim Leyland said. "I personally want to thank David Pauley. He did everything we asked. I feel badly for him. I know he's better than what he showed. I just hope things work out for him." "It's no one's fault but my own," Pauley said. "It was a tough situation. I wanted (to contribute) but it didn't happen. And that's all on me. That's kind of how baseball goes sometimes." He said he appreciated getting let go now as opposed to at the end of Spring Training. "I've been on the opposite side of that sometimes, where you're the last guy out of camp and you don't find a job," he said. "I can only appreciate what they did for me and gave me the opportunities they did. Now I've just got to move on and take the next step."

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Walk issued by RHP Justin Verlander in his first three spring outings. Verlander also gave up only one run, on a leadoff home run, in his first 9 2/3 spring innings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I saw it go out and I said, 'Oh, wow, that's worth $214 million.'" -- Tigers' owner Mike Ilitch's observation Mar. 15 after watching his newly acquired 1B Prince Fielder blast an exhibition game home run. Ilitch okayed the signing of Fielder to a long-term deal worth $214 million after Detroit lost DH Victor Martinez to an offseason knee injury.


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