Cabrera not in camp; will meet with doctors
Slugger will not join Tigers for at least the next several days
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera was apparently heading to Spring Training on Wednesday night when police found him with his car along a roadside. He didn't make it, and nobody knows yet when he will. But it appears he has another journey ahead of him, one that the Tigers will support.
Cabrera was not in camp with the Tigers on the first day of full-squad workouts Saturday, and he won't be for at least the next several days. The All-Star slugger will meet in South Florida with doctors, who will determine the next course of action for him.
Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski made the announcement Saturday morning.
"We had conversations [Friday] ... between the Commissioner's Office, the [Major League Baseball] Players Association, myself and Miguel's representative," Dombrowski said, "and basically, we've all decided that it's best he be continuing to visit and really find out what's taken place, and be in a position where [doctors] can meet with him and completely assess what has taken place.
"Until that happens, we've all decided that it's better for him to do that away from camp, even though he would love to be here and is capable of playing at this point. But he even acknowledges that he'll do whatever he needs to do, and is willing to work with everybody for whatever needs to be done. There's complete cooperation with all of the groups. We're all on the same pages. The doctor that does the evaluation will be coordinated by the Commissioner's Office and the Players Association, and he'll make his recommendation on what needs to be done."
Cabrera was arrested late Wednesday night in Fort Pierce, Fla., on suspicion of driving under the influence and resisting an officer without violence. After talking with Cabrera on Friday, Dombrowski determined that Cabrera was trying to drive to Lakeland that night when the radiator broke down, and his cell phone wasn't working.
According to the report, Cabrera and his car were found along the side of Okeechobee Road, which leads on and off of Interstate 95 and Florida's Turnpike. It's an easy transfer point for motorists going from South Florida to the Orlando area.
"He 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 will do what's necessary to get him back on track."
Dombrowski would not speculate on whether Cabrera might go into a treatment program. That, he said, will be determined by the doctors. He expects to have some type of read from them by the middle of next week. That doesn't mean Cabrera will return to camp then, but it'll give a better timetable.
Cabrera, who turns 28 on April 18, has gone through a treatment program in the past. He underwent regular outpatient counseling after the 2009 season following a reported incident with his wife in suburban Detroit that resulted in him being held, but never charged.
Dombrowski said Saturday that Cabrera had people around to support him last season, provided by his agents at SFX. The team also kept in touch over the offseason with people around him, including his trainers.
Why Cabrera did what he did Wednesday, Dombrowski said, "I have no idea."
"I think any time you deal with alcoholism and an addiction -- and I've been doing this for a long time in my career -- you realize it's an ongoing battle," Dombrowski said. "It's not easy. And if it's a player or it's personal, it's hard. What sets somebody off at a certain time to take a drink -- I'm not wise enough to know that. But it happens. You need to make sure that the player or the person continues to follow the program. And that's why people sometimes have been through this many, many times."
Though Cabrera wanted to come to camp, Dombrowski said, he didn't fight the decision to wait.
"I talked to him on the phone a couple of times," Dombrowski said. "I talked to him on the phone later [Friday]. He's as down as can be. He feels terrible."
Dombrowski said he would be "surprised" if any suspension or other discipline came from Major League Baseball. He also dismissed published speculation that the Tigers might try to alter or void Cabrera's contract, which has five more years and $106 million remaining.
"There's a lot of contract language out there, but what's out there at this point, there's no language that [would alter that]," Dombrowski said. "And we're not trying to do anything."
Dombrowski echoed the support coming from Cabrera's teammates Friday. So, too, did manager Jim Leyland, who insisted he was not trying to brush aside personal concern for Cabrera when he downplayed the potential distraction factor Friday.
"We are family. We support family," Leyland said. "We don't make light of it. But like I said, people smarter than me handle those situations. There are steps that need to be taken, as Dave said, and I'm not part of those steps."
The Tigers' workouts will go on without their most important offensive player. Utility man Don Kelly will see work at first base. Victor Martinez will also have some workouts there, Leyland said, though he noted Martinez will continue to catch quite a bit in order to learn his new pitching staff.
Once Cabrera does return this spring, he'll get no shortage of support.
"He's a wonderful kid," Leyland said. "He a great kid. He's got a great face. I can promise you, I will be there for him as I would be for any of my other players."