In the minds of many, there's only one place Miguel Cabrera should be on Monday night above all others, and it's in the batters box at Target Field, digging in and getting ready to take aim at the left field bleachers.
Cabrera, however, made the decision to skip the 2014 Home Run Derby, mostly to avoid "messing with his swing" in his own words. However, the actual issue to sit out might not be so much about the swing as avoiding physical fatigue and additional wear and tear for an important second half.
Speaking on a conference call regarding the event, ESPN's Ozzie Guillen admitted fatigue factor from the derby could be real. "Bobby (Abreu), he hit like 50 some home runs in Detroit (in 2005). All of a sudden after that he just went blank. He went down to the tank. And maybe that can cause that," Guillen said.
Still, as the former manager of the Chicago White Sox and Florida Marlins, Guillen never had a problem with his players choosing to compete in the event himself, nor tried to discourage them from doing so. "If my players want to do it, just do it. I was concerned about my pitching, not the hitting," he said. "But I think for the Home Run Derby to when the games start, it's like three or four days. I don't know why it would screw up your swing."
Someone who's been friendly with Cabrera through his career, Guillen does understand why he would want to sit out at this point in time. "I respect it. I think maybe Miggy just wanted to relax," he said. "He's been through a lot of issues physically the past few years dealing with some injuries and I think that's why Miggy said he wanted to kick back and watch."
ESPN's John Kruk also agreed. "I think what Miguel is doing is coming off the (surgery), I think taking away from the Home Run Derby, he's basically going to get two or three days rest before they have to play, and it's going to help him in the second half." He noted Brad Ausmus's inability to rest Cabrera on Sunday night, when the Tampa Bay Rays were in town thanks to Victor Martinez's injury. Eventually, Cabrera sat out Wednesday's game, showing just how hard it is to get a player of his caliber a true day off.
As for the idea that the Home Run Derby can ruin a major league swing? Kruk didn't dispel that notion at all, either, while noting the workout generates plenty of swings and fatigue. Then, there's the actual event itself. "You don't take batting practice too often when there's 40-50,000 people in the stands," Kruk said. "So it's a different form of batting practice. You're oohing and ahhing the fans with hitting balls as far as you can hit them."
"I remember the '93 All-Star Game, the left-handed hitters, (Barry) Bonds and all that, were trying to hit it off the warehouse outside Camden Yards. That's not your normal batting practice."
At this point, the Tigers don't need Cabrera trying hard to do anything. Like Guillen and Kruk mentioned, Cabrera's ailments have been a significant story the past few seasons. Arguably, if Detroit had Cabrera healthy last year, they could have beaten the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
With a solid season brewing, the team doesn't need that issue creeping up again in 2014. Better to have Cabrera on the sidelines cheering than worrying about him tweaking an old injury trying to hit home runs. There's no doubting the event is fun, but chasing a playoff birth is more important. To do that, the Tigers will need their biggest star at his full mental and physical health.
It's only fair to give the last word on the matter to Guiilen, a man who grew accustomed to getting it throughout his 27 year playing and managing career.
"I know (Cabrera) maybe wanted to be there, but I think it's not going to play with his swing. I think he's just tired and deserves and needs a lot of rest."
Well said as usual, Ozzie.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.Tags: All-Star Game, Baseball, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, Home Run Derby, John Kruk, Miguel Cabrera, MLB, Ozzie Guillen