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October 3, 2012

Eyes on the Tiger

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Miguel Cabrera sat in front of his locker in the corner of the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, slinging some Spanish banter at a table full of teammates.

There were no television cameras hovering over him. No microphones stuck in his face. None of the commotion that could be reasonably expected as the soft-spoken Detroit Tigers slugger closes in on baseball’s first Triple Crown in 45 years.

“The entire baseball world should be here right now,” said Justin Verlander, the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner. “We’ve got, sorry to say, the regular guys.

“I think he’s been relatively under the radar for what he’s done, for what he’s doing. It hasn’t happened in 40-some years,” Verlander continued, his voice rising. “It kind of annoys me. I don’t know about anybody else. I don’t know about him. It probably doesn’t annoy him.”

It certainly doesn’t annoy Cabrera, who will politely answer just about any question posed to him, but would just as soon spend his time hanging out with his buddies.

The perfect example came Monday night, shortly after Cabrera had four hits and a home run in a 6-3 victory over the Royals that clinched the AL Central. He was asked about contributing so much to another division title, and Cabrera deflected the attention back on his teammates.

“We got it done with the first one,” he said quietly. “That was our goal.”

Now, though, the spotlight shifts squarely to the broad shoulders of Cabrera, who started at third base in Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss at Kansas City. He had a pair of singles and drove in two runs in his first two at-bats before flying out to right and leaving the game in the fifth inning.

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