Struggling and ailing Miguel Cabrera said he is eager for the Tigers to lock up the AL Central crown as soon as possible in order to get some much-need rest and relaxation before the playoffs begin.
"It means a lot to me," he said in an exclusive interview with ESPN Deportes on Friday. "But I'm not the only one with injuries here. There are a few guys who deal with their own ailments. Right now, we are focused on winning and clinching the division. After we achieve that, if there's a chance to get some rest, we will think about it."
Cabrera, who became the first player in 45 years to win baseball's Triple Crown last season, believes he still has a shot at becoming the first to achieve that milestone in consecutive seasons even as home run and batting numbers have fallen off in recent weeks. He acknowledged that his chances of doing so have been hit as he battles through a spate of injuries, including frequent flare-ups to his left hip and lower abdominal and back problems.
"It's a matter of luck, and things changing any minute," Cabrera said. "This situation is not frustrating, since our team is doing great. I've told manager Jim Leyland and the team's trainers that I don't want any more rest, I will play no matter what, and I will try my best on the field."
All of these injuries have forced him to make adjustments to his swing and sapped his bat speed and confidence at the plate. But the Venezuelan said he does not want to make any excuses for his recent offensive struggles. Still, he conceded that his situation this season has not been easy to deal with.
"All that stuff has affected my offensive numbers," Cabrera said. "My swing is not as fast as it normally is, and those are things that you must face on a daily basis. But that won't keep me from going out on the field and trying to help this team win ballgames."
Cabrera is batting .348 with 43 home runs, second most in the AL behind Baltimore's Chris Davis. He has gone homerless in the last 12 games, his longest such drought of the season, and has only driven in three runs and has had only four hits in hist last nine games.
Cabrera and the Tigers have 15 games remaining on their quest to both clinch the division and see if that second Triple Crown remains possible.
"I'm really happy with my numbers this season, happy because we've been dominant and are in first place," Cabrera said. "I hope that we will be able to top what we did last year in the playoffs."