Miguel Cabrera is hurting.
His bat, however, is feeling real good.
The Detroit Tigers slugger is gutting it out at third base on a right ankle sprain that is supposed to be getting better but appears to be healing in tiny increments.
"I might have to get him off it," manager Jim Leyland said, referring to making Cabrera his designated hitter, not taking him out of the lineup altogether. "I'll see. I have to think about it."
The problem there is that Leyland has to pull a good hitter and replace him with an inferior one -- and put in a third baseman who doesn't offer Detroit what Cabrera does. And Saturday night he's introducing a rookie, Avisail Garcia, into the lineup in right field.
"It's not feeling the way I want it to feel right now," Cabrera said, standing near the entrance to the showers and occasionally lifting his right foot off the ground a little to ease some pain.
Cabrera took a bit of criticism Thursday for slowing down about a third of the way to first base, then speeding up and just getting nipped on a game-ending double play that capped Detroit's third straight one-run loss in Kansas City.
"I'll defend Miguel Cabrera," Leyland said. "Never at any time, in any game since I've been the manager here has he not given 100 percent all the time. Never."
Cabrera also committed two errors Friday. One run resulted from his lack of agility, but the Tigers earned a 7-4 win over the Chicago White Sox, pulling within two games of the AL Central lead.
"You play hurt," Cabrera said, "I got to take (the heat). I can't control that. People are going to talk. Nothing's going to bother me."
The sore ankle doesn't bother his ability to push off at the plate or generate some torque on his swing.
First time up, Cabrera creamed the first pitch for a two-run home run, his 33rd of the season.
Third time up, Cabrera yanked a ball into the left field corner and eased into second with a double. He then advanced to third on a fly ball to center by Prince Fielder that he might not have tried against a center fielder with a stronger arm. Cabrera slid into third, his sore right foot stabbing into the front of the bag.
"I was trying to get in good position to score," he said.
In the eighth, Cabrera singled to left-center and he scored on a three-run double to left-center by Delmon Young.
"Every game right now is big for us," Cabrera said. "I want to play.
"What am I going to do? I have to take the heat. Like (Thursday) night."