LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is hesitant to predict Miguel Cabrera’s statistics for the upcoming season.
Leyland said the way Cabrera has been hitting the past week there is no limit to what he can accomplish.
Cabrera hit a monstrous homer that nearly cleared the left field berm at Joker Marchant Stadium, his second in two days and third of the spring, as the Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 Thursday.
Cabrera, who started slowly this spring, raised his average to .357. He also ran the bases aggressively, stretching a single into a double and said he wants to take that aggression into the regular season.
“There’s no question I am feeling good right now,” Cabrera said. “I am ready to work and trying to make sure I am ready for the season. I’m just here to work hard and be patient.”
Cabrera arrived late for spring training after his arrest on arrest on Feb. 16 on suspicion of driving under the influence and resisting an officer without violence.
“I feel good and I am just working on my swing and my base running, trying to be more aggressive,” Cabrera said. “This can be a really big season for us.”
Cabrera batted .328 with 38 homers and 126 RBIs, finishing second in the American League MVP race. He’d more concerned with wins that stats
“If we get the wins, I get the numbers,” Cabrera said. “If we get the wins, my numbers will be there.”
Leyland has spent all spring emphasizing Cabrera’s importance and the intelligence he brings to the team.
“There isn’t a smarter player in baseball than (Cabrera).” Leyland said. “He isn’t just smart, he has the instincts. Sometimes I wish he wasn’t so aggressive, but he’s pushing himself hard.”
Brad Penny, recovering from an abdominal injury last May that ended his season, allowed three runs and walked two in five innings, raising his spring ERA to 2.35. He allowed a home run to Luke Hughes in his final inning, but said he felt ready to start the season.
“I actually felt better than I did last time out,” Penny said. “I think I am right where I want to be right now.”
When asked how it felt to put up a decent outing against an American League Central rival, Penny was quick with the answer.
“The Twins are going to be better when the season starts, but so will I,” Penny said.
Twins starter Jeff Manship started for the Twins and allowed a run on three hits in two innings. Hughes earned some praise from Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. The rookie is batting .350 with five homers this spring.
“He is swinging good,” Gardenhire said. “He’s seeing the ball and he’s just hitting bombs.”
NOTES: The Tigers celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by wearing green uniforms with white shoulders and all green caps and had “leprechauns” serving as batboys. Tigers C Alex Avila is batting .267 on the spring, but Leyland said Avila is showing a new sense of confidence behind the plate when it comes to dealing with the pitching staff. C Victor Martinez is still day to day with a slight neck injury. He missed his second straight day. Leyland was leaving Lakeland immediately to drive to Tampa where Michigan State is playing UCLA in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament Thursday night. Leyland said he was doing it out of respect for Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and would drive back to Lakeland before heading on a nearly three-hour bus ride to Fort Myers to play the Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. Friday. The basketball game starts at approximately 9:40 p.m.