Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera cleared to return

Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera was cleared Tuesday to play again, more than a week after a bad-hop grounder broke a bone beneath his right eye.

The third baseman is expected to return to the lineup within a couple of days, although manager Jim Leyland hasn’t committed to the exact date the AL batting champion will play.

”That’s not good news. That’s great news,” Leyland said before the Tigers played the Houston Astros.

The Tigers open their season April 5 at home against Boston. Leyland emphatically said that if Cabrera is healthy, he will start at third base and bat third.

Cabrera has been out since being hit in the face on March 19. The ball off the bat of Philadelphia’s Hunter Pence caused a gash that needed eight stitches and left some discoloring under Cabrera’s eye.

Cabrera was examined early Tuesday at Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Fla., and it was determined there was no structural damage that would hamper him.

”The nice part about it is I don’t have to worry about the medical part of it,” Leyland said. ”I saw him this morning and had a nice conversation with him. I think he felt comfortable the whole time. I don’t think he was worried like everybody else was.”

Cabrera led the majors last year with a .344 batting average. He also hit 30 home runs and had 105 RBI for the AL Central champions.

Cabrera was hitting .433 in 13 games this spring before he was hurt.

The 28-year-old Cabrera is making the switch back to third base this spring after playing first base for the Tigers for four years. Cabrera shifted across the diamond this spring to make room for new first baseman Prince Fielder.