Whether he's able to do it for a 12th straight year will hinge largely on his offseason recovery -- one that ESPN's Buster Olney reported Sunday would include surgery to remove bone spurs in his right ankle. The Tigers have said no decision has been reached as to whether the 31-year-old Cabrera will require surgery.
Regardless, it's clear Cabrera is in considerable pain. His manager, Brad Ausmus, watches his gait carefully when he's rounding the bases. Cabrera was wincing while rounding the bases following his third home run in two days on Sunday.
As a result, Ausmus will continue to look for opportunities to give Cabrera a day off his feet -- like Monday, when he was the designated hitter instead of at first base.
"It's a daily decision," Ausmus said before the Tigers' opener vs. the Royals. "We're going to have to manage this. There's days when he's good, days when he's bad, days when he probably should get a day off [to DH] even when he feels good."
Ausmus said he isn't certain whether this is an injury that could be made worse with activity as the home stretch progresses. At the very least, Cabrera is simply facing even more discomfort than he's already up against.
Cabrera is perhaps the fiercest competitor in the Tigers' clubhouse, so it stands to reason that he'll want to be on the field as much as possible down the stretch. Ausmus will rely on his honesty and visible signs in deciding the plan for Cabrera on any particular day.
"If I ask him how he's feeling, I think he's telling me the truth," Ausmus said. "I've kind of gotten to know him a little bit, so I can read the signals."
Matt Slovin is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.