Cabrera out Saturday; Coke, Perez recalled
By STEVE KORNACKI
DETROIT -- Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who left Friday's game early, on Saturday wasn't in the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 3.
He aggravated his abdominal-wall injury Friday and was classified as “day-to-day” by Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski.
Cabrera missed his first game of the season on July 3. He later missed four games, July 23-26, and three games, July 31-Aug. 3.
The abdominal strain also causes problems with Cabrera’s hip flexor. He bruised his left knee and shin by fouling off two pitches from Mariano Rivera on Aug. 9, when he recovered to hit a game-tying homer off the New York Yankees closer.
However, those bruises no longer are issues. The abdominal injury won’t go away, though. Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said playing Cabrera is no threat to structural damage, but said it makes the healing process slower.
“Our primary concern with Miguel Cabrera is getting him healthy,” said Dombrowski, adding that he would not play Cabrera if he could not get better while playing. “We’d like to see him win the home run title, RBIs and the Triple Crown. But he is playing for the team. Our goal is to see that he’s fine.”
Cabrera is running away with the American League batting title (.358) and RBI lead (130), but trails Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis in homers, 47-43. Oddly enough, the Tigers are 7-1 in games the reigning AL MVP has not started.
Cabrera, 30, has never been on the disabled list during 11 major league seasons with the Florida Marlins and Tigers. And there’s no point in placing him on the 15-day disabled list now because rosters are allowed to expand from 25 to 40 on Sunday.
He’s played at least 150 games in each full season, and can still reach that number this year. But at some point in time, should Detroit decide its lead on the Cleveland Indians (7.5 games back) and Kansas City Royals (9.5 games back) is comfortable enough, the decision could be made to rest Cabrera for the playoffs.
COKE, PEREZ RECALLED: The Tigers recalled left-handed pitcher Phil Coke and second baseman Hernan Perez from Triple-A Toledo prior to Saturday night’s game with the Indians, and optioned right-handed pitchers Jeremy Bonderman and Luke Putkonen to Toledo and Class A Lakeland, respectively.
Dombrowski said Putkonen (2.78 ERA with Detroit) and Bonderman (2.51 ERA with Tigers) would be recalled on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, after rosters are allowed to expand beginning Sunday.
That means Tigers will go with 11 pitchers, one shy of the normal number, on Saturday. Though, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said all six relievers are available for the game.
The moves were made in regard to strategy in composing the 25-man roster for the playoffs, which can be altered before each round.
Players currently on the 25-man roster are automatically eligible, but having relievers Octavio Dotel (right elbow inflammation) and Luis Marte (right shoulder) on the 60-day disabled list provides Dombrowski roster leverage.
He can place either Dotel or Marte on the playoff rosters, but also can use their two roster allowance spots to place any player in the organization as of midnight Saturday on the post-season rosters.
The bottom line on this strategy: Detroit can remove any two players from the current 25 from a playoff roster, and replace them with any two players in the organization.
Coke was 0-5 with a 5.00 ERA before being demoted to Toledo, but didn’t allow an earned run in four one-inning appearances with the Mud Hens. He struck out eight, allowed no walks and only three hits.
“He went down there and he threw well,” Dombrowski said. “He kept the ball down better.”
When asked if Coke had improved his curve ball, Dombrowski noted that he only had four appearances but threw the curve and his other pitches well with improved command.
Perez batted .224 with a .237 on-base percentage in 56 at-bats with Detroit earlier this season. He knocked in five runs with one triple and one stolen base.
“(Perez) give us some flexibility with somebody who can run,” said Dombrowski.
Leyland said he might start Perez against certain left-handed pitchers.