Ausmus not worried about Miggy's slump

Ausmus not worried about Miggy's slump

DETROIT -- The snapshot of Miguel Cabrera's July to date might have happened in the first inning Sunday afternoon. Cabrera centered a pitch from Yordano Ventura, a pitcher he normally hits, and sent a bouncer past the mound and up the middle, seemingly headed for center. Cameron Maybin, on first base after a one-out single, was running on the play.

Maybin's jump, however, sent second baseman Christian Colon scrambling to cover second, putting him in position to field Cabrera's ball with nary a step of range. From there, he could step on second and fire to first for an inning-ending double play and an exasperated look from Cabrera.

It has become a familiar look recently. Cabrera went 2-for-11 with a double in the three-game weekend series against the Royals. He entered Monday's series opener against the Twins batting .214 (9-for-42) in July with one extra-base hit, a double, two RBIs, seven walks and 11 strikeouts.

It's a small sample size, too small to signify a career decline, but long enough for a slump.

"A little bit is luck," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Usually when guys are struggling, they're not hitting the ball with consistency, but when they do hit the ball, they're not getting the hit. But he's human. He will come out of it, and when he does, he'll hit the ball like he normally does."

Cabrera has had stretches like this, even during his great years. He finished slowly last year on his way to his fourth American League batting title, dealing with calf and ankle issues. By all accounts, Cabrera is healthy right now, though he said before the All-Star break that he wanted to skip last week's Home Run Derby in order to help rest his knee and back.

Even with the recent struggles, Cabrera entered Monday batting .289 (100-for-346) with 18 homers, 53 RBIs and an .866 OPS, numbers that are below his career standards but not exactly a dramatic dropoff for a player who turned 33 years old in April.

"God, that's terrible," Ausmus said. "Make sure you write that as sarcasm."

Cabrera's home run rate is his highest since 2013, while his extra-base hit rate is on par with last season. His line-drive rate of 27 percent of pitches he has put in play is nearly identical to his rate over the last four seasons.

The key, both for his personal numbers and the Tigers' fortunes, will be his stretch run.

"Nobody's getting younger, but I'm not worried about Miguel," Ausmus said.

Tigers sign Australian prospect

The Tigers looked to Australia for their latest international signing, agreeing to terms with 16-year-old left-hander Jack O'Laughlin.

O'Laughlin stands 6-foot-5, said Tigers international operations director Tom Moore. O'Laughlin's fastball currently sits in the mid-to-upper 80s, but he projects to gain velocity as his body fills out. He also throws a changeup and splitter and has the feel for a curveball.

O'Laughlin has pitched internationally for Australia, and was part of the recent MLB Australian academy.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for 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.