LAKELAND, Fla. — The common theme coming out of Tigers camp Friday morning is that the Miguel Cabrera situation will not be a distraction, no matter what people think.
Manager Jim Leyland said it and veteran Brandon Inge echoed it.
Both made a point of emphasizing that while also saying the Tigers fully supported Cabrera in getting whatever help he needs.
“For once and for all, it’s not going to affect the team at all,” Leyland said. “All these people that are getting dramatic about this (stuff), it’s not going to affect this team one bit. Trust me. That’s all reading material. And everybody getting all upset and getting real dramatic — you think Magglio Ordonez and those guys are going to go about their business any different?
“Nobody’s going to do anything different. We’re going to bust our (butt). I know for a fact without getting into this situation — I know for a fact that Miguel Cabrera’s in the best shape of his life. He’s stronger than he’s ever been and he’s quicker than he’s ever been.
“It has no effect. It might make some dramatic reading material and everybody’s projecting this and that about it. It’s not going to do (crap) along those lines, believe me. Nothing.”
Inge said the fact that the Tigers are a very close bunch who have almost all been around each other for a few years will make it a non-issue for the team.
“For a situation like this, it’s going to be easy for us to handle it,” Inge said. “It’s not going to be a distraction.
“We all love Miggy. He’s one of the better teammates I’ve ever played with. Everyone has problems, it’s just one of those things you have to deal with.
“Now when he comes back, it’s going to be one of those things where we’re just going to help him in any which way he needs and make it normal for him. It’ll be fine.”
And just in case you missed it, one more time with feeling from Leyland:
“All this speculating about all the disruption it’s going to have, it’s not going to do (crap),” Leyland said. “It is not going to be a disruption for our team, trust me. It’s not going to be.”
Inge said even if Cabrera has to miss time this season, that won’t be a problem either.
“We’ll pick up whatever we need to pick up for him,” Inge said. “Hopefully, it’s not going to take long.
“We don’t know what the circumstances are right now. In this situation we’re going to be good teammates as well. We’ll pick him up in any which way we can.”
Like Alex Avila said Thursday, Inge said that the Tigers are Cabrera’s second family and will bring him back into the fold as soon as he arrives.
“We’re more concerned for a family member than anything,” Inge said.
Inge said that in the past, Cabrera has always expressed regret and wanted to put the team first.
“Put anyone on earth in the same situation he’s in right now and you’re going to want to crawl into a hole,” Inge said. “That’s human nature.
“I feel bad for him. I really do. That’s why we’re going to make him feel comfortable when he comes here. We’re not disappointed. We’re not mad at him.”
Both Leyland and Inge said that they don’t think Cabrera will be adversely affected on the field when he does return.
“He was tremendous last year,” Inge said. “I don’t doubt for a second that he’ll get back there again.
“I think this is going to be the best thing for him. Baseball is his life. He’s like a kid. It’s his passion, it’s what he loves to do and he does it well. So getting back to baseball is going to be great for him, it really is.”
Leyland took it a step further than that.
“I think Miguel Cabrera is probably going to have the biggest year of his life,” Leyland said. “I know for a fact that Miguel Cabrera’s in the best shape of his life. He’s stronger than he’s ever been and he’s quicker than he’s ever been.”
President and general manager Dave Dombrowski said Thursday he did not know when Cabrera would come to Lakeland. As of Friday morning, nothing had changed in that regard.