KANSAS CITY -- Every All-Star Game is different for Miguel Cabrera. Maybe that's because he has been there at so many different positions.
When Cabrera first made it to the Midsummer Classic in 2004 and again in '05, he was a left fielder. His next two appearances after that were at third base. When Cabrera went to the past two All-Star Games representing the Tigers, including his only All-Star start in 2010, he was a first baseman.
Getting back as a third baseman after moving back to the hot corner, Cabrera said, makes this one special. He isn't in the starting lineup, and he isn't in the Home Run Derby, but he got the respect of his peers for the shift that he undertook.
"The experience to come back here, playing third base now, it means a lot to me," Cabrera said. "All the hard work we did in Spring Training, the hard work we did in the season, coming back to the All-Star Game and being at third base, it's going to be very amazing."
Cabrera was one of three prominent hitters to shift from another position to third base in the spring. Two of them, Cabrera and Mark Trumbo, are going to the All-Star Game.
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Out of the three Tigers All-Stars at this year's media day festivities, Cabrera was by far the least visible. Both Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder were part of separate news conferences -- Verlander with American League manager Ron Washington after being named the All-Star starting pitcher, Fielder with the rest of the State Farm Home Run Derby contestants. Both will be in the starting lineup when the AL takes the field Tuesday night.
Cabrera will be on the bench, waiting for when Adrian Beltre leaves the game. It'll be the same reserve role he had last year, only on the opposite side of the infield.
He has been in that reserve situation seven times now, waiting for the late innings to get his chance. Yet even if it's repetitive for the fans to see him in this position, it's still unique for him.
American League lineup
1. Derek Jeter, NYY
2. Robinson Cano, NYY
3. Josh Hamilton, TEX
4. Jose Bautista, TOR
5. Prince Fielder, DET
6. Adrian Beltre, TEX
7. David Ortiz, BOS
8. Mike Napoli, TEX
9. Curtis Granderson, NYY
Justin Verlander, DET
"Everything's different," Cabrera said. "My first All-Star Game, I went to left field. I went to third base for a couple years, back to first and now I'm back at third base. It's kind of different things, but I enjoy it the same. I'm here to help fans, try to learn from other players, trying to do better."
Cabrera shifted from first to third, of course, so that the Tigers could make room for free agent Fielder. The fact that both players ended up as All-Stars this year seemed to be a fitting reward.
For Fielder, the fact that he's back in the Midsummer Classic in the first year after changing leagues doesn't make it any more special. All of them, he said, are unique.
A year ago, it ended up being special for a multitude of reasons. It started because of the boos Fielder received from the home fans in Arizona, who were miffed that he left D-backs hero Justin Upton off the Home Run Derby roster. The boos were big enough that his kids, he joked, wanted to fight. Instead, Fielder got even with his detractor with a three-run homer in an MVP performance for the National League.
"During the Derby, I was getting booed a lot, and they got angry," Fielder said. "Then I was getting booed all the way until that hit. After that, my boys were talking a little trash. That was nice to have them smiling, because they were feeling kind of sad."
Then Fielder jumped leagues and returned to Detroit, where he spent a good part of his childhood, for a nine-year, $214 million contract. He didn't have to worry about picking Derby contestants this year. All he had to do was hit.
"It means a lot," Fielder said. "It's just a lot of fun to be there, and I'm glad I can share it with my two boys and my family."
Jadyn and Haden were at their dad's side during his Derby news conference, and they joined him on a podium when he had his separate media session. Haden jumped podiums for a while and joined Cabrera, to see the throng of Venezuelan and Latin American reporters waiting to talk to him.
Cabrera simply enjoyed the scene in the background. He'll let Fielder and Verlander take the glory. When Cabrera was asked if he has a better time watching or participating in the Home Run Derby, he didn't hesitate.
"Watch," he said.
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.