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Saturday, February 19, 2011
Miguel Cabrera not at Tigers camp

ESPN.com news services

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera missed the Tigers' first day of full-squad practice and will meet with doctors early next week to figure out how to move forward following his latest alcohol-related incident.

"He has a problem. He knows that, we know that, and we're willing to work with him," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told Yahoo! Sports Saturday. "He would love to be here. He wanted to come yesterday but it didn't take long [to convince him]. He understands he needs to do what's best for himself."

Dombrowski said Cabrera will likely know by the middle of next week whether or not he will go to rehab, according to the report. The team doesn't know when the slugging first baseman will report.

"Miguel is not going to be here today nor will be here for the next couple of days," Dombrowski told the AP. "We had conversations yesterday between the commissioner's office, the players association, myself and Miguel's representative and him, and we've decided that it's best to meet with some doctors in the beginning of the week and completely assess what has taken place."

The first baseman was arrested late Wednesday on suspicion of drunken driving in Fort Pierce, about 110 miles southeast of Lakeland.

Dombrowski said he won't know when Cabrera might return until after the doctors see him.

"I would anticipate, after the doctor visits with him, having some type of feel by at least the middle of this week," he said. "I've talked to him on the phone a couple of times. He's as down as he can be. He feels terrible."

Manager Jim Leyland reiterated that Cabrera is his first baseman and part of the team no matter what.

"We will welcome him back with open arms. We are a family," Leyland said. "We support him and always will. We can take care of it. I love that kid.

"I am not enjoying it right now but I can't wait for the kid to come in. I love the kid. I will support him in everything he does."

Detroit is hoping to contend for the AL Central title after adding players such as Victor Martinez and Brad Penny in the offseason. Cabrera is the lineup's centerpiece. He hit .328 with 38 home runs last year and finished second in the American League MVP vote to Texas' Josh Hamilton.

Dombrowski said Cabrera wanted to be with the team, but accepted the decision to seek help.

"Until that happens we have all decided that it's better that he be away from camp, even though he would love to be here and is capable of playing at this point," the GM said.

Nobody doubts Cabrera's physical ability, but teammates are concerned about him. He's struggled with alcohol-related problems in the past. Late in the 2009 season, police said Cabrera got into a fight with his wife after a night of drinking.

"Look, we can all do as much as we can, but no one can ever fill that guy's shoes," third baseman Brandon Inge told ESPN.com. "This is one of those things where, on the selfish side, I hope he turns this around, for him and for us, because we need him. We need him bad. He's the cornerstone of what we're building around.

"Obviously, I'm more concerned about him as a person. You put the human being first and the team second --but it's a very, very close second."

Dombrowski had to pick up Cabrera at the station after that incident. No charges were filed.

"He's cooperative and realizes he's had an alcohol problem in the past that he's addressed and has worked through, and he fell off of that program," Dombrowski said. "He acknowledges that and he will do what's necessary to get back on track. But I will also say he's extremely down. He wants to be here. He feels terrible but he understands the importance of making sure that this is properly evaluated."

Leyland is undeterred by Cabrera's situation and determined to get camp off to a good start.

"I think the important thing is that it will not be a distraction," Leyland said. "The Tigers are doing everything to make things proper. Miguel is a tremendous guy and we are going to do everything we can to contribute. I love the guy and I know he is going to do all he can to contribute."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.