Ausmus: Shutting Miggy down not an option

Ausmus: Shutting Miggy down not an option

DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera was out of the Tigers lineup for Sunday's series finale against the White Sox after leaving Saturday's game with lower back tightness. However, the team has no plans to shut down Cabrera for the stretch run with the team out of contention.

It's a question that has popped up more than once over the past month as back issues that began for Cabrera during the World Baseball Classic have flared up every so often. However, Cabrera -- who played through a groin tear, a sprained ankle and a broken foot during the Tigers' run of division titles and postseason contention -- has shown no desire to sit, and the Tigers have shown no desire to sit him.

"Baseball players are paid to play baseball," Ausmus said Sunday morning. "If they are physically able to play, they play."

That has been especially true for Cabrera, who avoided the disabled list for close to a dozen years until a left calf strain in 2015 cost him six weeks. His only other DL stint was a 10-day stretch for a right groin strain early this season.

Cabrera had been optimistic that the seven-game suspension he served earlier this month for his involvement in a dustup with the Yankees would rest him up for the stretch run. He said earlier this week in Cleveland that the time off helped his back issues. He was 7-for-26 with two homers over his first six games since returning.

"He's about to get four months off," Ausmus said. "So four months and two weeks are going to help him?"

Cabrera's production has suffered along with his health. He's batting .223 (39-for-175) since the All-Star break with five homers, 19 RBIs and a .628 OPS, compared with a .796 OPS during the season's first half.

Cabrera's back issues are expected to be a long-term issue for him as he ages. He has talked about changing his offseason workout routine and working on his body frame to try and lessen the wear and tear.

So far, Ausmus said, Cabrera has not had an MRI on his back, let alone discussed any possible surgery.

"This is going to be an issue for him for the rest of his career. Maybe we should sit him the next seven years," Ausmus said sarcastically.

Cabrera's contract is guaranteed through 2023, when he'll turn 40 years old. He has vesting options for 2024 and 2025 if he finishes in the top 10 of MVP voting the previous seasons.

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