Tigers slugger Jose Cabrera may not play in Team Venezuela's final game of the World Baseball Classic, United States manager Jim Leyland told reporters on Friday.Team Venezuela did not make an announcement on Cabrera's availability, but Tigers general manager Al Avila said the first baseman's status would be decided Saturday
Tigers slugger Jose Cabrera may not play in Team Venezuela's final game of the World Baseball Classic, United States manager Jim Leyland told reporters on Friday.
Team Venezuela did not make an announcement on Cabrera's availability, but Tigers general manager Al Avila said the first baseman's status would be decided Saturday before Venezuela's game against Puerto Rico, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET. With Puerto Rico's win over the United States on Friday night, Venezuela (0-2) cannot reach the championship round next week and has just one more game remaining.
"He will be evaluated [Saturday] and they will decide," Avila said. "It does not seem it is anything serious."
Cabrera left Thursday night's 3-0 loss to the Dominican Republic in the sixth inning after experiencing tightness in his back. Cabrera exited the contest after trying to beat out a ground ball down the third-base line. Orioles third baseman Manny Machado made a sensational play on the ball for the Dominican Republic, backhanding it and throwing out Cabrera from foul territory.
"They think it's just a little tweak, but you never know about that," Leyland said before Team USA's game against Puerto Rico at Petco Park. "I actually had coffee with [Cabrera's] dad today, and his dad told me that he was OK. I don't think he'll play any more in this tournament, probably, although I don't want to speak for Venezuela."
Leyland managed Cabrera from 2008-13 while with the Tigers. In that span, Cabrera won both of his MVP Awards, was selected as an All-Star four times, won the Triple Crown in 2012, and helped lead Detroit to the 2012 World Series, in which it was swept by the Giants.
Cabrera, who turns 34 in April, is batting .190 (4-for-21) in the Classic with a home run. The Tigers are expecting that the two-time American League Most Valuable Player will be ready to go when the regular season begins.
"He's had it happen before," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Friday. "There have been times he's played with it, and there are times he's come out of games. Oftentimes, it depends on how the game's developing. Is it a close game? Is it a meaningful game?
"It's probably something he'll have to deal with. Generally, back problems are something that are recurring. I had back problems the last 12 years of my career. I had back surgery the last year of my career. Certainly, it wouldn't be shocking if it was something he had to deal with on an ongoing basis."
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.