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Miguel Cabrera returns to the Tigers lineup — but he really just needs to slow down

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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The Detroit Tigers have a World Series to chase and Miguel Cabrera has a second straight Triple Crown in his sights, so there's no time for rest.

Nobody in Detroit is saying those words, but that sure is what the team and its star player seem to be telling us with their actions. Cabrera is back in the Tigers lineup on Tuesday after sitting out three games — he'll bat third and play third base like he always does, like nothing's wrong. It sure seems like the opposite, though.

Cabrera left Thursday's game with abdominal pain, vowing to return to the lineup on Friday. He did, then he left that game early too. This came after Miggy missed a handful of games in late July because of a hip injury. The abdomen injury kept him out previously too.

[Related: 2013 MLB postseason schedule]

Nothing has been severe enough to put him on the disabled list, but it's all been nagging enough that everybody's watching now. Conventional wisdom tells you these are signs of a guy who needs a break — especially when that who played 161 games in both 2011 and 2012, plus 127 of 138 games this season.

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Last week, weighing his Triple Crown pursuits against his team's playoff run, Cabrera said he's all about what's best for the Tigers:

"You've got to think about how we're going to get better as a team, how we can get better in the stretch run. You have to think about what's better for the Detroit Tigers. You don't have to be selfish and say you're not going on the DL because you want to do something special. It's not part of my game."

If that's what he really thinks, it's probably wise to slow down a bit. Yes, the Tigers are playing a big series against another first-place team right now, the Boston Red Sox. Yes, you can see how Cabrera would want to be in the lineup for that, to make a statement if nothing else.

Even with this trip to Boston and a trip to Kansas City later this week, Detroit's schedule is one of the easiest in September among the 16 contending teams. It's like the schedule-makers know the guy needs a rest. This isn't the NFL, where a season could potentially go down in the flames in a single week. The Tigers have a 8 1/2 game lead in the AL Central. There's basically nothing for the team to lose by letting (making?) Miggy rest a little bit.

Locking up second consecutive Triple Crown would be a feat for the ages — no one has ever done it — but would it be worth it if Cabrera limps into the playoffs and his team gets bounced? This season, the way Miggy is hitting the ball he's like a super hero with a baseball bat. But even super heroes have their weaknesses.

Baseball season's in full swing. Don't miss a thing.
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