Tigers manager A.J. Hinch seems convinced he should play Miguel Cabrera at first base.
Miggy’s days as a respectable defensive player are long gone. Thanks to lower-body injuries, age and body type, Cabrera can’t field his position well, and doing so actually puts him at further injury risk.
Hinch isn’t necessarily wrong to explore the use of Cabrera at first. It would increase the value of a player that’s having a hard time backing up his salary at this point in his career. However, the Tigers should be most focused on Cabrera’s potential impact with the bat, rather than in the field. Anything that distracts from his potential lineup presence detracts from the overall impact he could have on this team.
Cabrera isn’t the player he once was
Miggy arrived two days early at Spring Training this season, a rarity for players of his caliber. With a new manager and potential bounceback season ahead of him, it’s admirable of him to try and set an example for his younger and less accomplished teammates.
On the final weekend of the 2020 season, the 38-year-old made it clear how much he values playing first base.
“It means a lot to play first base,” Cabrera said. “I hope they can give me more time next year to play first. I’d like to be in the field. I’m learning how to be the DH right now. It’s a little hard for me to hit and then go and sit and think about what I’m going to do in the next at-bat. In the past, I’d forget about hitting and I’d go out and play defense. .. Right now I’m learning how to be the DH, but at the same I want to spend a little more time at first base next year and hopefully I can do that.”
Hinch is giving Cabrera a chance to prove himself at this position. If he falls on his face, the Tigers hopefully have a backup plan.