Just prior to clubbing a scorching line drive home run off Adam Wainwright in the first inning, the Detroit Tigers' first baseman revealed that he hasn't exactly been feeling right much of 2014 thanks to some lingering issues from his sports hernia surgery over last offseason.
"There are times I feel good but there are always muscles that are tightening, muscles that are not functioning properly," Cabrera said in Spanish to Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today. "It's part of the process. The same thing is happening to Justin Verlander, but the difference is he pitches every five days so you don't see it as frequently."
Finally, the explanation most of Detroit has been craving. Cabrera, while he has put up solid numbers through the first half, looked a little off for the most part in stretches. He's not hitting for as much power or as consistent as an average. Even the RBI numbers are down a bit, considering in the past, he was threatening 100 by the All-Star break.
Yet, there he was, in the lineup and slugging arguably the loudest and most resonant hit of the game on Tuesday night. It's not unlike what he's done in the first half for the Tigers. Despite an issue nobody could quite put their finger on, Cabrera still impressed at the plate. He collected his 2,000th hit in April, and has a few four hit contests to his credit. Cabrera even stole a win against the Baltimore Orioles with a late home run.
It's not easy to notice when Cabrera is ailing, because he rarely admits that he is, both personally and with his play. He's a proud competitor who doesn't want to have a story about him take away from the accomplishments of the team.
"But as he (Verlander) and I talked about, we're never going to offer any excuses for our performance. We always want to be out on the field and compete, and I think that's the most important thing we can do, compete and try to get past this tough time. And the main thing is we're in first place."
That quote says it all. The fact that Cabrera was able to hit a home run last night despite everything only speaks more to his durability. From that standpoint, his first half of 2014 has perhaps been more impressive than MVP years. Despite whatever discomfort he's feeling, Cabrera still remains a league leader in several statistical categories and makes impact plays.
Now, everyone has that explanation they were looking for as it relates to both Cabrera and Verlander's health. As it turns out, both have managed to hang in there impressively considering what they've quietly been dealing with.
That just helped Cabrera's All-Star home run and Detroit's first half look all the more impressive in the grand scheme of things.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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