Once Tigers manager A.J. Hinch saw the swing and his reaction, it was time to get it checked out. With Sunday’s move to the 10-day injured list, Cabrera’s chase for 500 home runs and 3,000 hits went on hold.
“He felt his bicep grab,” Hinch said Sunday morning. “And he had been [dealing] off and on [with] a little bit of soreness, nothing to be concerned about. But when it grabbed him again, and watching him swing with two hands and not be able to finish with his natural one-handed swing, I told him last night after the game I don't want him to keep fighting it. Let's get it get checked out, put him on the injured list and make sure we nip this pretty early.”
Cabrera underwent tests in Cleveland. He’ll remain with the team on its three-city road trip, which continues next week to Houston and Oakland, but will wait for the results to determine his next step.
“He wasn’t in a tremendous amount of pain,” Hinch said, “but we’ve got to find some answers as to why it was hindering his confidence and his comfort.”
Cabrera has an injury history with his left biceps. After dealing with spasms there in April 2018, he ruptured a tendon on a swing in June and required season-ending surgery.
Cabrera played in Detroit's last five games, including three of the last four, at first base. He went 0-for-3 on Saturday, part of an 0-for-8 slump since Wednesday’s series finale against the Twins at Comerica Park.
Cabrera hit his 488th career home run on Opening Day against Cleveland, but has otherwise been off to a slow start, going 3-for-24 with two extra-base hits, three walks and four strikeouts. He sat out last Sunday’s series finale against the Indians in Detroit after dealing with full-body cramps the previous game.
The lingering soreness in Cabrera’s bicep might explain in part why Renato Núñez was on Detroit’s taxi squad for the road trip. The Tigers selected Núñez’s contract Sunday and put him in their starting lineup against the Indians, batting cleanup as the designated hitter.
The former Orioles slugger was a favorite for the Opening Day job at first base after going to Spring Training with the Tigers as a non-roster invitee, but lost out when Hinch decided to go with a rotation of players at the position. He accepted an assignment to Triple-A Toledo in hopes of getting an early-season callup.
With Cabrera out, expect a heavy dose of playing time for Núñez at first base and DH.
“I do want to become an everyday first baseman. That’s my goal,” Núñez said Saturday afternoon before being called up. “That’s what I’ve been working on. I’ve been working a lot on my defense. I want to feel a lot more comfortable at first base than I was in Spring Training and I was last year.”
The Tigers can hope for an infusion of power from the streaky-hitting Núñez, who led the Orioles with 12 home runs last year but also struck out 64 times in 216 plate appearances. The Tigers entered Sunday with 10 home runs, tied for sixth among American League teams, but with a .204 batting average that ranked next-to-last.
Teheran moved to 60-day IL
Cabrera's injury is the second to a Tigers veteran this weekend. Right-hander Julio Teheran went on the injured list on Saturday with a shoulder strain after being scratched from his scheduled start on Friday. He was transferred to the 60-day IL Sunday to make room for Núñez on the 40-man roster.
The Tigers have not released a timetable on Teheran, but the move means Teheran’s earliest possible return will be in June.
“Obviously, we needed the roster spot today, and we had to make a decision on his availability the next couple months,” Hinch said. “It kind of grew as we got more and more information, but I would say in the last 24 hours, we started getting more and more intel.”
Short, Jiménez added to taxi squad
With two players called up from the five-man taxi squad in the last two days, the Tigers will add infielder Zack Short and reliever Joe Jiménez to the taxi squad for their upcoming series in Houston. Both were at the alternate training site in Toledo.
Short, acquired from the Cubs last summer for Cameron Maybin, made an impression in Spring Training as a right-handed-hitting infielder who can provide solid defense around the infield and some power at the plate.
“He’s one injury away from being an option for us,” Hinch said in Spring Training.