LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera took another step in his rehab from foot and ankle surgery, though it didn't involve many actual steps at all. He began taking ground balls at first base on Saturday.
The ground balls were hit directly at him, limiting the lateral movement he'd be tested to do.
"I watched him. Everything was good," manager Brad Ausmus said Sunday. "We hit some ground balls at him."
It's the first fielding work Cabrera has done since the end of last season. He underwent surgery last October to remove a bone spur from his right ankle and repair a stress fracture at the top of his foot.
Cabrera has been running on an anti-gravity treadmill since reporting to camp a couple of weeks ago, gradually increasing the weight he carries when he runs. He'll begin running on the field, Ausmus said, when he runs at 80 percent weight-bearing. The slugger has been taking batting practice on the field with the team all week.
The Tigers have been alternating Minor Leaguers Jordan Lennerton and Aaron Westlake at first base while Cabrera and Victor Martinez have been out. Ausmus said Saturday that Lennerton would be part of a contingency plan to fill in at first base.
"He's one of those guys we would have to think about, obviously, if Victor and/or Miggy aren't ready," Ausmus said.
The Tigers have been publicly hopeful of having Cabrera in their lineup on or near Opening Day. Detroit opens its season against Minnesota on April 6 at Comerica Park.
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.