DETROIT -- The Tigers are hoping that Miguel Cabrera and his surgically repaired right foot will be healthy enough to be in their Opening Day lineup. His Spring Training readiness, however, is expected to be limited if not delayed.
It isn't really a surprise, given the stress fracture that was repaired in Cabrera's foot in October. With Spring Training six weeks away for position players, however, it's becoming official.
Cabrera is doing partial weight-bearing activities with help from a walking boot he has to wear, according to head athletic trainer Kevin Rand. He has been doing that since mid-December, as well as some upper-body weight work that doesn't require much mobility.
Cabrera tweeted a photo of him working out on Monday.
Despues de un buen trabajo de pesas????toca LA terapia ?????? coming the extrano jajajajaj http://t.co/up3bWrnxBG
Cabrera is scheduled to wear the walking boot until a mid-February follow-up exam with Dr. Robert Anderson, the Charlotte-based specialist who performed the procedure to repair the stress fracture as well as remove a bone spur in his right ankle.
If the ankle and foot check out well, Cabrera should be cleared for baseball activity, just in time for Tigers workouts to begin Feb. 24. Even if he can work out on the field, however, he isn't expected to be ready to join full team workouts.
"Obviously he isn't in a position from a conditioning standpoint at that point," Rand said.
The Tigers open Grapefruit League play a week after their first full-squad workout.
Just what that means for Cabrera's Opening Day status remains to be seen. The Tigers begin the season April 6 against the Twins at what will likely be a chilly Comerica Park. Cabrera likely won't need a full spring of at-bats to be ready -- the five-week game schedule is more for pitchers than hitters -- but he'll need enough games to test his mobility in the field and on the basepaths.
"That's too far out right now," Rand said. "First of all we have to get him clear to do the activities."
The Tigers and manager Brad Ausmus have options if Cabrera's status is close but not assured. Cabrera could begin the season as the designated hitter, swapping spots with Victor Martinez to play first base. There's a limit to that, as Ausmus probably won't want to put the 36-year-old Martinez in the field for a long stretch of games and risk injury with him. Still, it's the pragmatic solution.
Cabrera played through his injuries down the stretch last year. While the bone spur was known since late summer, the stress fracture caught Tigers officials by surprise. Repairing the fracture lengthened Cabrera's recovery timetable.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.