DENVER -- Jose Cabrera left the Tigers' 4-3 victory over the Rockies in the middle of the fifth inning with lower back tightness and is day to day. John Hicks took his place at first base and batting cleanup.Cabrera walked in his first two plate appearances, scoring the go-ahead run
DENVER -- Jose Cabrera left the Tigers' 4-3 victory over the Rockies in the middle of the fifth inning with lower back tightness and is day to day. John Hicks took his place at first base and batting cleanup.
Cabrera walked in his first two plate appearances, scoring the go-ahead run from first on Nicholas Castellanos' two-run triple in the third inning. All the scoring came in the prolonged first three innings, which saw sixteen baserunners combined. Cabrera struck out swinging in the fifth inning and left the game before the Tigers retook the field.
"I think, quite frankly, it was all the standing around early in the game," manager Brad Ausmus said of Cabrera. "His back started acting up, started to tighten up on him. He said he was able to hit, but in order to hit, he'd have to go stand out at first base again. So we made the change."
Cabrera, a two-time American League MVP and 11-time All-Star, is a .409 career hitter (65-for-159) against the Rockies and a .425 hitter (31-for-73) with five homers at Coors Field.
"It's something I'm battling this year," Cabrera said of the lingering back problem, noting that he hasn't found anything to make it better.
Cabrera faces an interesting decision, given that he is currently appealing a seven-game suspension that was handed down after his central role in a melee between the Tigers and Yankees last Thursday. Rather than wait to hear about the appeal, Cabrera and the Tigers could decide to accept the suspension and use it to give Cabrera time to heal.
"It crossed my mind when he had to come out of the game tonight," Ausmus said of the possibility. "It's something we'll determine."
Cabrera is on pace to hit below .300 for the first time since 2008 and only the fourth time in his 15 big league seasons. He's hitting .253, 64 points below his career average.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.