LAKELAND, Fla. (FOX 2) - Miguel Cabrera walked into the locker room Tuesday morning, and reached down to inspect the mail left on his chair.
He sat down, opening up some sort of clothing item, and called across the room to a teammate in Spanish (as I cursed myself for not retaining anything I learned in Spanish 102). They laughed. A prospect acquired through the Justin Verlander trade of 2017 walked by, pitcher Franklin Perez, and Miggy said something to him. Must've been good — he smiled.
Back in Lakeland once again, it's Cabrera's 12th season with the Tigers. He knows what this team is going through right now and he told me he plans to be around for it all.
"I think I'll finish my career here. It's been a lot of good years here in Detroit," he said as I pulled him aside before the team left for Port St. Lucie to take on the New York Mets. "Right now we come in with a new process. We gotta deal with this process, so I'll go out there and try to play hard and (try) to be better every day."
The 35-year-old veteran saw his first action since mid-June on Sunday in a Grapefruit League game against the Philadelphia Phillies at the Tigers spring training home, Joker Marchant Stadium. It was a hit and a walk in two appearances at the plate to shake off the rust — Cabrera's 2018 season was cut short after he ruptured his left biceps tendon in June. It's not just his own recovery he's worried about, but helping the new guys get into gear.
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"Try to go out there and do my job, try to help the young kids to get better everyday," he said. "Hopefully this process won't be too long and we can be a winning team again."
Outfielder JaCoby Jones was once one of those young kids.
"He's one of the best players in the league for a long time and he's a great clubhouse guy, he teaches young guys how to be a professional and he's just fun to be around," he said.
And pitcher Casey Mize is one of those young kids right now.
"I was covering first base and Miggy threw me a ball. It's been cool just to see him around. He's huge — a lot bigger than you realize so I've worked with him a little bit. That's been a really cool part for me," he said.
In March 2014, Cabrera received a 10-year, $292 million contract that'll keep him in Detroit through at least 2023. So he'll be here for quite a while to make an impact, but he's focused on the right now.
"I think the communication we're going to have here is going to very important here at spring training. We try to work and be ready for the season," he said.