LAKELAND, Fla. — Miguel Cabrera reported Sunday morning to start his 20th major league spring training camp, and his 15th with the Detroit Tigers.
This was something different. For the first time since 2016, the strengthened Tigres have ambitions to be protagonists, perhaps to fight for a title.
“I think we have an opportunity to do it, and that’s why I’m more excited and ready to give it right now,” Cabrera said.
Due to turn 39 next month, the Venezuelan slugger needs 13 hits to reach 3,000 in his career.
“You have to wait patiently,” Cabrera said of the personal milestone.
Cabrera batted .256 with 15 home runs and 75 RBIs in 130 games last year. He closed the season with 502 career home runs.
The Tigers are coming off a 77-85 season, their first under manager AJ Hinch. It was an important advance after four consecutive campaigns with a percentage below 400.
They signed shortstop Javier Báez and starter Eduardo Rodríguez shortly before the 99-day lockout.
“Our manager and the organization conveyed a new message last year, that the time had come to win, and they ratified it during the offseason, signing two good pieces for our team,” Cabrera said. “Hopefully we can be healthy and put up a fight.”
In November, Detroit acquired wide receiver Tucker Barnhart in a trade with Cincinnati, then signed Rodriguez and Báez in free agency.
Those acquisitions, plus the presence of several prospects, such as outfielder Riley Greene and first baseman Spencer Torkelson, give the Tigers another face and renewed expectations ahead of their first formal workout on Monday.
The 28-year-old left-hander Rodriguez enters a starting rotation that already featured Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning. Tyler Alexander could be the fifth.
“We need to set the bar high,” Hinch said. “We started this preseason after having won a little, not much. And I think we need to repeat the slogan.”
Outfielder Robbie Grossman throbs it.
“There’s a different attitude in the clubhouse,” he said. “We’ve brought in very good players. We’re going to continue to improve, so our expectations will continue to grow.”
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Miguel and Tigres start with new energy