Cabrera misses Tigers’ first full-squad practice

Posted Feb. 19, 2011, at 2:04 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 20, 2011, at 9:25 p.m.

LAKELAND, Fla. — Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera has missed the Tigers’ first day of a full-squad practice and the team doesn’t know when he will report.

“Miguel is not going to be here today nor will be here for the next couple of days,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “We had conversations yesterday between the commissioner’s office, the players association, myself and Miguel’s representative and him, and we’ve decided that it’s best to meet with some doctors in the beginning of the week and completely assess what has taken place.”

The first baseman was arrested late Wednesday on suspicion of drunken driving in Fort Pierce, about 110 miles southeast of Lakeland.

Dombrowski said he won’t know when Cabrera might return until after the doctors see him.

“I would anticipate, after the doctor visits with him, having some type of feel by at least the middle of this week,” he said. “I’ve talked to him on the phone a couple of times. He’s as down as he can be. He feels terrible.”

Manager Jim Leyland reiterated that Cabrera is his first baseman and part of the team no matter what.

“We will welcome him back with open arms, We are a family,” Leyland said. “We support him and always will. We can take care of it. I love that kid.

“I am not enjoying it right now but I can’t wait for the kid to come in. I love the kid. I will support him in everything he does.”

Detroit is hoping to contend for the AL Central title after adding players such as Victor Martinez and Brad Penny in the offseason. Cabrera is the lineup’s centerpiece. He hit .328 with 38 home runs last year and finished second in the American League MVP vote to Texas’ Josh Hamilton.

Dombrowski said Cabrera wanted to be with the team, but accepted the decision to seek help.

“Until that happens we have all decided that it’s better that he be away from camp, even though he would love to be here and is capable of playing at this point,” the GM said.

Nobody doubts Cabrera’s physical ability, but teammates are concerned about him. He’s struggled with alcohol-related problems in the past. Late in the 2009 season, police said Cabrera got into a fight with his wife after a night of drinking.

Dombrowski had to pick up Cabrera at the station after that incident. No charges were filed.

“He’s cooperative and realizes he’s had an alcohol problem in the past that he’s addressed and has worked through, and he fell off of that program,” Dombrowski said. “He acknowledges that and he will do what’s necessary to get back on track. But I will also say he’s extremely down. He wants to be here. He feels terrible but he understands the importance of making sure that this is properly evaluated.”

Leyland is undeterred by Cabrera’s situation and determined to get camp off to a good start.

“I think the important thing is that it will not be a distraction,” he said. “The Tigers are doing everything to make things proper. Miguel is a tremendous guy and we are going to do everything we can to contribute. I love the guy and I know he is going to do all he can to contribute.”

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