LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Miguel Cabrera acknowledged Monday that he has something to prove after a disappointing season. But the Detroit Tigers slugger is definitely done tinkering with his swing.
“I don’t want to change my swing anymore,” Cabrera said before the Tigers’ first full-squad workout of the spring. “I just want to be natural. The last three years I’ve been changing my swing a lot to feel comfortable at home plate.”
Hobbled by a sore right knee, Cabrera tried making several adjustments to get through the 2019 season. In 136 games, he hit .282 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs — all well below his career standards.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said a big part of the lack of production was Cabrera’s weight, which drifted well over his official playing weight of 249 pounds.
Cabrera was noticeably trimmer upon showing up for his 13th Tigers spring, and he said the knee feels “pretty good.”
“Last year I was heavy,” he said. “I think I lost a lot of weight from last year to this year. I tried to eat more vegetables, cut out some extra stuff. I ate almost the same, but less carbohydrates.”
Cabrera, who turns 37 in April, will start his 18th major league season with the highest batting average (.315) among active players with a minimum of 1,000 plate appearances. He also ranks second in RBIs (1,694) and second in home runs with 477, although only 31 of those homers came in the last three seasons.
“I always feel like I need to prove something,” said Cabrera, who has four years left on the $248 million contract he signed six years ago. “My goal was to get in shape, get ready for this season. try to come back 100 percent.”
“There’s always something to motivate you. Last year I was not happy with my numbers, the way we played, all the losses we had. That’s another reason to try to come here and compete and win more games,” he said.
Coming off three straight seasons of trimming their payroll and winning less than 40 percent of their games, the Tigers have signed five veterans to one-year contracts in an effort to turn around their fortunes. They added second baseman Jonathan Schoop, catcher Austin Romine, pitcher Ivan Nova, first baseman C.J. Cron and outfielder Cameron Maybin.
Cron’s arrival and Cabrera’s knee issues have relegated Cabrera to full-time DH status, although an occasional appearance at first base has not been ruled out. Cabrera played only 26 games at first base last season.
“I’m here to do whatever they need from me,” Cabrera said. “I’m here for the manager. I want to play a lot of games.”