LAKELAND, Fla. — Octavio Dotel said he apologized to Miguel Cabrera and his teammates as a group on Wednesday morning for published comments that Dotel believes were misinterpreted.
“You have to step up and say something,” Dotel told by Eric Adelson of Yahoo! Sports. “Miggy’s more about his game. I don’t see him as a leader.”
I asked Dotel if that was accurately quoted.
“I don’t mean to say that,” Dotel said. “That’s not me. I don’t like the way it comes out. This is not what I was meaning to say.
“I apologized to Miggy … I talked to him man-to-man … It’s the way Miggy sees it that hurts me.
“You don’t want to get your main guy pissed off big-time. This is not what I want. I apologized about that leader comment.”
Does he see Cabrera as a leader?
“No question,” Dotel said. “He’s our horse. He wants to be in the lineup every day. I have respect for Miggy.”
Is Cabrera OK with Dotel after the apology?
“Ask him,” Cabrera said. “It’s not my words. He can say what he wants to. It’s not a big deal for me.”
Said Dotel: “I hope Miggy doesn’t hate me for that.”
When asked if he had a problem with Dotel, Cabrera smiled and said, “No, no. Why? I’m good with that.”
Dotel — a reliever who on the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2011 World Series team — said he approached Cabrera about having a players’ meeting after the draining Game 4 loss in the American League division series at Oakland.
But Dotel said he didn’t ask Cabrera to call a meeting after the Tigers dropped the first two games of the World Series, as Yahoo! Sports reported.
“I was hoping,” Dotel said of a meeting after Game 2.
Dotel and Cabrera did get into a shouting match during the Series after Cabrera blew off an interview obligation with the media.
“Sometimes we act like we’re arguing,” Dotel said, “but we are having a good time. We never argue.”
Cabrera has a positive influence in the clubhouse, but he’s not usually an iron-fisted leader.
I recall seeing him openly frustrated with plays that led to losses as the Tigers struggled in early September last season. He got in the face of teammates, and I thought that was good. There’s not a player on the team who wouldn’t listen to Miggy; he’s earned their respect.
When your best player is your leader, you have an awesome force. What you have is a Derek Jeter or George Brett.
More often than not, though, the great players are not great leaders. Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Ichiro Suzuki are examples of that.
So is it in Cabrera’s makeup to be a dynamic leader? We shall see.
Cabrera definitely has passion for more than his statistics, and losing does tear away at his heart. I’ve seen that.
The whole team-meeting concept is debatable. There are plenty of people in baseball who roll their eyes at team meetings and their effects.
I believe Dotel was trying to have Cabrera step up and fill the leadership lurch the team experienced last year. Brandon Inge was gone, and Victor Martinez was injured and back home in Orlando.
Although there were good leaders in the clubhouse, there was not a lay-down-the-law type.
With Martinez back healthy and Torii Hunter added to the mix, there isn’t the void of a team leader to fill now.
“We won’t have a problem with that this year,” Dotel said.
The key thing at this point for the Tigers is harmony.
If Cabrera is indeed “good” with the apology and doesn’t resent Dotel, this will simply be a short break from a peaceful, sunny camp in Lakeland.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland considers the matter put to rest.
When asked if he was glad to have that storm out of the way, Leyland said, “I don’t even consider it a storm.”