Everybody's going to point and snicker and say, "And that's why Miguel Cabrera shouldn't be playing third base," after the Detroit Tigers slugger took a grounder off his face Monday.
Everybody should cool it. Cabrera has been receiving a lot of attention (medical and otherwise) after the impact of a grounder hitting just below his right eye caused profuse bleeding, prompting him to leave a Grapefruit League game against the Phillies. Cabrera's eye seemed to be OK, but he was taken to a hospital, reportedly for stitches and X-rays.
As the video replay appears to show, Hunter Pence hit a sharp grounder that bounced off the lip of the infield dirt, taking a bad hop, hitting Cabrera in the right cheek after shattering a lens of his sunglasses. (Perhaps a cut by the plastic is what caused the blood.) Regardless, it's a play that could happen to anyone, even a great third baseman. Even someone who isn't a great third baseman but still has great hand/eye coordination like Cabrera does.
Cabrera hasn't played third regularly since the first weeks of the 2008 season, when he was so bad that Tigers manager Jim Leyland moved him to first base. But because of Prince Fielder's arrival and other roster-wide limitations, the Tigers are asking Cabrera to move back to his old position. To his credit, Cabrera has answered the call by slimming down and trying his best enthusiastically.
Perhaps it's not the best solution, especially for the likes of pitchers Doug Fister and Rick Porcello, who will rely on their defense more than other pitchers. And maybe the Tigers won't use Cabrera that much at third by the time the season is said and done.
But sometimes a bad hop is just a bad hop. Flukes happen at first base, too. The Tigers can't use nine DHs, no matter how much they might want to.
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