Detroit's order protection

Updated: March 4, 2011, 9:17 AM ET
By Buster Olney

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera sat happily on the visitors' bench Thursday, smiling broadly, chatting about how his timing at the plate is off, and how he likes to get about 70 at-bats in spring training to get ready for the season.

Judging by the laser line-drive out he mashed to right field in his first at-bat, Cabrera is not far from recovering his swing. And besides his low batting average so far, his return to the Tigers, after his Feb. 16 arrest, has been seamless. To watch him laugh and joke with teammates this week, good-naturedly giving Brennan Boesch a hard time, is to see him at his most comfortable.

Dave Dombrowski, the Tigers' general manager, said before Thursday's game that within a couple of days there will be a sponsor chosen to shadow Cabrera as part of the alcohol treatment program he has started. But it's clear that Cabrera also has a strong support system in place in his own clubhouse, surrounded by Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen and Victor Martinez -- all Venezuelans, as is Cabrera himself.