Miguel Cabrera Is Welcome Addition To Tigers' Clubhouse, Lineup

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Carlos Guillen said he and American League batting champ Magglio Ordonez shouldn't have any trouble communicating with new Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera.
The three Venezuelan stars are all fluent in the language of hitting.
"It helps a lot that we all speak the same," Guillen said on Sunday at a Tigers Caravan stop at Michigan State University. "But I don't want to put pressure on him. You see the ball and hit the ball. You try to have fun. It's a long season."
It has been a momentous offseason for a team that won the American League pennant in 2006, then slipped from 95 wins to 88 and missed the playoffs last year.
The biggest deal for Detroit or any other team was the acquisition of Cabrera, already a four-time All-Star at age 24, plus pitcher Dontrelle Willis from the Florida Marlins for a package of six players, including top prospects Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller.
"We made the deal on a Tuesday and first thought it was a possibility at about 10 Monday night," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "Some deals take months and months. I hadn't made any deals that big that quickly. And I hadn't made many deals that big."
Dombrowski isn't worried about Cabrera's transition to a new team or a new league, especially with a leaner physique than he had with Florida.
"I've known him since he was 16 years old," Dombrowski said of his days as general manager of the Marlins. "Miguel knows Carlos extremely well. He knows Magglio and Todd Jones (a former Florida reliever). And (Tigers assistant GM) Al Avila originally signed him. Plus, Detroit is a good place to play right now. We have good players and good people."
Guillen, 32, and Cabrera are both from Maracay but didn't face each other as youths. Guillen, a first baseman this year after spending most of his career at shortstop, said he didn't have to play on the same team to know he wanted Cabrera as a teammate in a lineup that should rival any in baseball.
A 34-homer, 119-RBI season with a .320 average was just about average for Cabrera, listed at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds.
"It doesn't matter if he hits right or left," Guillen said of another right-handed batter in the middle of a lineup with Gary Sheffield and Ordonez. "Miguel can hit righties or lefties. And he plays with passion."
The trade, along with the acquisitions of shortstop Edgar Renteria and left fielder Jacque Jones, create several possible batting orders for manager Jim Leyland, a nice problem to have.
"He hits the ball, and it's like lightning going off outside your house," first base coach Andy Van Slyke said. "He adds more lightning to any lineup, and there's a ripple effect. I wasn't around to see the '27 Yankees. But we might score as much as they did. We'll have to see, but I like Cabrera in the fourth spot."
Van Slyke said it won't matter that the middle of the lineup will have three right-handed hitters. With Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco getting on base and Guillen, a switch-hitter, dropping to sixth in the order, Detroit should give its pitchers plenty of run support.
"You can't do wrong with three guys like that hitting 3, 4 and 5," Van Slyke said. "Does being right-right-right matter? Not with those three bats. No pitcher in the league can make nine perfect pitches."


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