DETROIT -- Jose Cabrera likes to kid around, including when he talks to reporters. But a lot of times, he has a point to his playful jabs.So when he was asked about aggravating the back issues that plagued him last season, his answer had a playful tone, but also an
DETROIT -- Jose Cabrera likes to kid around, including when he talks to reporters. But a lot of times, he has a point to his playful jabs.
So when he was asked about aggravating the back issues that plagued him last season, his answer had a playful tone, but also an edge to it.
"I went through that last year," he said, "so I don't want to do the same thing. Nobody appreciates when you play hurt, so I'm going to take my time and play when I'm good. I played a lot of years hurt here in Detroit."
Cabrera played through what turned out to be a groin tear on his way to a third consecutive batting title in 2013. A year later, he played through a broken foot on his way to a 52-double season. In both cases, he played hurt to try to help the Tigers in the postseason, and he was still an elite hitter.
He's older and wiser now, and the Tigers are playing for the future. He's also paying the physical toll for playing hurt. That includes last season, when Cabrera played through back issues and posted the worst offensive season of his illustrious career.
So as the former Triple Crown winner tries to rehab his strained right hamstring and keep his back from flaring up, he's going to make sure he's back to full strength before he returns to action.
"When you are doing bad, they crush you," Cabrera said. "They say you are bad, you should go home, you don't deserve anything, that you are old. I'm done playing hurt. When you are going good, they say, 'Oh, oh, you're good.' Now I take my time."
If the Tigers weren't contending for a World Series during his prime years, he might have been better off taking his time with those previous injuries. He got off to a hot start this season, batting .323 (30-for-93) with three homers, 21 RBIs and a .924 OPS when he strained the hamstring, but his back was also becoming an issue in the days leading up to it.
Cabrera's back tightened up again in recent days as he was doing rehab work on the hamstring, from running on a treadmill to stretching.
"When you are tight here," he said, pointing to his hamstring, "your back is tight. It's all the same thing."
The back issues put a different tone in Cabrera's optimism. A week ago, he was hopeful he could be ready when he became eligible to return from the 10-day DL.
For now, there's no timetable for Cabrera's return. Manager Ron Gardenhire said they're hoping to get him on the field for baseball activity in the next day or two. Cabrera said he's on a stretching regimen to try to rehab the hamstring.
Carpenter back for spot start
The Tigers will recall Ryan Carpenter from Triple-A Toledo for a spot start in Wednesday's series finale against the Indians. It'll be his second start for the Tigers this season, having yielded three runs in as many innings with three strikeouts on the second game of an April 1 doubleheader against the Pirates at Comerica Park.
Carpenter's start Wednesday was necessitated by a doubleheader last Saturday, when Matthew Boyd and Michael Fulmer started against the Mariners. Carpenter was called up as a 26th player for the second game of that doubleheader and threw just two-thirds of an inning in 19 pitches, which allows him to come back on three days' rest for Wednesday's start.
Following Tuesday night's game, a 9-8 win for the Tigers, Detroit optioned right-hander Zac Reininger and infielder Dawel Lugo to Toledo. The Tigers also will recall right-hander Artie Lewicki from Toledo.
Wilson hopes to return in two weeks
Reliever Alex Wilson played catch on his feet Tuesday for the first time since rupturing the plantar fascia in his left foot, and the right-hander believes he could be back in a couple weeks.
"There's no timetable for this; that's the frustrating thing," Wilson said. "It all goes off of how you feel. Some people have apparently been back from this in three days, which is hard for me to believe. But two weeks to a month is pretty normal, apparently. Having said that, I think I'm probably two weeks away, if I had to take a guess."
Wilson played catch with Jordan Zimmermann, who his own rehab timetable as he works his way back from a right shoulder impingement. Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio has Zimmermann slotted into the rotation somewhere down the road, though the exact date isn't known.
• Leonys Martin is back with the Tigers after a few days rehabbing at home in Miami to be around his ailing father, but it's unclear if Martin will be ready to return in Seattle on Friday, when he's eligible to come off the 10-day DL.
"We have to slow him down," Gardenhire said, "because he's anxious and wants to get in there."
• While outfield prospect Christin Stewart continues to hit for power at Triple-A Toledo, Gardenhire referred questions about the timetable for his promotion to the Majors to general manager Al Avila.
"He has a master plan," Gardenhire said, "and that kid's part of it. He has a lot of work to do. We know he can hit, but there's a lot more to it. We want him to be a full player."
Stewart is ranked as the Tigers' No. 10 prospect by MLB Pipeline.
• Major General Malcolm Frost, the Commanding General for the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, delivered the game ball to the mound. The Major General, who was passing through Detroit, is responsible for training 120,000 soldiers a year.
"It was a great opportunity to connect with a great organization like the Detroit Tigers," he said. "The more we can connect with organizations that are trying to get after fitness in America, the better off we'll all be."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.