Miggy's work ethic strong as ever

Miggy's work ethic strong as ever

DETROIT -- The Tigers didn't arrive back from Kansas City until the wee hours of Friday morning after their Thursday night game against the Royals. Miguel Cabrera was back on the field at Comerica Park early Friday afternoon.

Donning a Lionel Messi Barcelona jersey Cabrera got during his offseason trip to Spain, the veteran slugger stepped over and ducked under hurdles for agility work with strength and conditioning coach Chris Walter -- something Cabrera said he does regularly now after injuries left him unable to do so the last couple of years. He ran up and down the steps of the lower box seats. After all that, he took early batting practice on the field as hitting coach Wally Joyner watched.

The BP pitches came from manager Brad Ausmus, who wanted to see Cabrera's hitting work firsthand as he tries to work out of April doldrums at the plate.

"Miggy is maybe the best hitter I've been around that can feel -- Tony Gwynn was another -- really feel when something's off, mechanically," Ausmus said. "Sometimes as a hitter, even when you feel what's off, you need a separate set of eyes -- in this case, Wally -- to kind of explain to you what they're seeing. That's what they were doing today."

Healthwise, Cabrera says he's fine. His swing, however, is off, much like it was two years ago when he got off to his last slow start.

"Thank god it's April," he said.

If anything, his health might be part of the adjustment.

"I think you go back to the core surgery [after 2013], then the ankle -- and he and I talked about it a little bit -- I think he got in the habit at times of not using his legs so much," Ausmus said. "But he has such a great swing, he could still get hits. We were talking about it in Spring Training that now he felt like he could use his legs. He had a regular offseason workout and could use his legs from a strength standpoint, as far as getting him healthy."

That was part of Cabrera's adjustment in 2014, having played down the stretch the previous season with little to no mobility due to a groin tear. He battled through that opening month with a .277 average and .735 OPS, then bounced back to hit .380 with a 1.126 OPS in May. The fact that Cabrera is healthy, going by the drills, suggests that a rebound is coming sooner or later.

"Long haul, I'm not concerned about him," Ausmus said. "When a player -- even a player of Miggy's caliber -- goes through a little bit of a downturn, it always seems to move very slowly as you're getting through it. But big picture is, he's going to get through it, so you try not to get too caught up in it. Just do what he's doing, taking the extra time to try to work through it faster."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.