Cabrera absent at TigerFest

Miguel Cabrera had surgery Oct. 24 and is still not cleared for full weight-bearing activity.

Rick Osentoski

DETROIT — There was a significant absence at TigerFest this year — Miguel Cabrera.

But there’s good reason for that.

Cabrera is coming off a complicated surgery that removed bone spurs from his right ankle and repaired a stress fracture on the navicular bone on top of his ankle.

With snow and ice abundant in metro Detroit at this time of year and all the attention Cabrera normally gets, Dombrowski thought it would be best for Cabrera to remain in Florida.

"If you’ve ever been around Miguel and he’s on the caravan, you see about 250 people just go around him," Dombrowski said. "I don’t want somebody stepping on his foot at this time. That wouldn’t be good. We don’t want to take that chance."

Cabrera had the surgery Oct. 24 and is still not cleared for full weight-bearing activity. He recently was able to remove his walking boot and can do upper-body work.

Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said the next important date is Feb. 15, when Cabrera returns to the specialist.

"We’re hopeful at that point he gets turned loose," Dombrowski said. "If he’s not ready for Opening Day, it’s going to be very, very close."

Although the Tigers are hopeful that Cabrera will be ready for the start of the season, they can’t count on it as a certainty.

"A few weeks ago I mentioned it to Alex (Avila), just wanted him to be aware that we thought he would be a good option and in spring training, depending on how Miggy’s rehabilitation comes along, we may put Alex at first base a little bit," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Victor, obviously, is a guy that we could stick over there as well."

Nick Castellanos, who lives in Miami in the offseason, has seen Cabrera in Florida.

"He’s just happy now that there’s no pain," Castellanos said. "He looks good. He looks thin and healthy. He’s excited to get back out there."

Since Cabrera will turn 32 in April and has undergone surgeries the last two offseasons, there are those who believe that his career is on the downswing.

"I couldn’t disagree more," Dombrowski said. "It’s amazing he could play last year with what he had. The doctor can’t even believe that he could go out there. And he was player of the month in September in a pennant race. I wouldn’t be shocked if he put up those huge numbers that he has in the past."

Castellanos said he wouldn’t bet against Cabrera.

"Since I’ve been in the big leagues, I’ve never seen him healthy," Castellanos said. "The last time he was playing injury-free was June of 2013. 

"And if you can remember he was pretty awesome at that time."

***If multimedia does not appear right away, please click refresh***