Perhaps the best example of Cabrera’s team-first mentality came when he moved to third base this year to accommodate newly signed first baseman Prince Fielder. Cabrera’s range isn’t particularly good, and the adjustment got off to a rocky start when he was hit around the eye with a bad-hop grounder during spring training.
It would have been easy for a player of Cabrera’s stature to call off the experiment after that scary injury, but he never did.
“He’s a very tough individual,” Dombrowski said. “He continued his hard work. I can’t say he wasn’t concerned, but we were more concerned than him at the time.”
Some of Cabrera’s quirkier habits may be on display for a national audience once the World Series starts. Watch him after a checked swing. He might signal toward first base himself, as if expecting the umpire to cut him some slack if he appeals the play before the catcher.
Cabrera is focused whenever he steps on the field. The Tigers were scrimmaging Sunday at Comerica Park, and when Cabrera stepped up, he used the plate to help mark off exactly where he wanted to stand, since there was no marked batter’s box.
Cabrera is all about details. But make no mistake, he has fun along the way.
“He tries not to worry about anything,” Berry said. “He gets bothered if everybody starts worrying too much. He just wants everybody to relax and believe in yourselves. That’s pretty much what I take from him.”