Cabrera left the Tigers’ 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins in the bottom of the third inning Tuesday night with what the team initially said was a left biceps tendon strain. An MRI determined it was ruptured.
Cabrera, 35, will have season-ending surgery later this week.
“He feels bad, he feels really bad,” Gardenhire said. “He feels like he’s letting people down.”
Cabrera suffered the injury when he swung awkwardly at Jake Odorizzi‘s slider. He immediately walked toward the Tigers’ dugout with his left arm hanging at his side. When he was joined by team trainers, Cabrera gestured to his biceps and continued walking into the Detroit clubhouse.
Niko Goodrum replaced him at the plate and struck out.
“At the end of that inning, I ran up to check on him in the clubhouse, and he said he felt a pop on that swing,” teammate Nicholas Castellanos said. “I knew that wasn’t good, but we didn’t find out how bad it was until after the game.”
Many of the Tigers had already left the clubhouse before it was opened to the media, more than 20 minutes after the final pitch.
“We’re all kind of stunned,” Tigers outfielder JaCoby Jones said. “You don’t think anything like that is going to happen to Miguel Cabrera, especially on a swing.”
Cabrera has played through numerous lower-body injuries in the past few years, even while winning a Triple Crown, two MVP awards and four batting titles, but it started to catch up with him in 2017. He played 130 games, but hit a career-worst .249 with 16 homers.
This year, he missed three games with spasms in the same biceps tendon that ruptured Tuesday, then was out for 26 games with a hamstring strain and back tightness. He returned on June 1, hitting .244 with no home runs and one RBI in 12 games before the latest injury.
Gardenhire didn’t think the earlier injuries played a role in what happened on Tuesday.
“He took BP before the game, and he said he felt great,” Gardenhire said.
Cabrera was coming off the worst season of his career, hitting .249 with 16 homers as the Tigers went 64-98 in 2017.
But Cabrera was hitting .301 this season with three homers and 22 RBIs. He appeared in 38 games in 2018; the last time Cabrera played fewer than 100 games in a season was his rookie campaign in 2003, when he made his debut in June.
Between 2003, when he entered the majors, and 2016, Cabrera was placed on the disabled list once. Tuesday’s injury will send him to the disabled list for the second time this season, and the fourth time in his career.
Cabrera’s 2018 salary is $30 million, and he is due at least $162 million guaranteed on his contract after this season.
The slugger is chasing 500 career home runs and 3,000 career hits, an exclusive MLB club that comprises Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Eddie Murray.
Cabrera also ranks in the top three among all active players in hits, home runs and RBIs: His 2,676 hits are third-most, his 465 home runs are second-most and his 1,635 RBIs are third-most.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Manny Machado timeline — Big talent with a little attitude
Here’s a look at the first seven years of his career:
2019: Scoring the big deal
It took months longer than anticipated, but Machado’s first foray into free agency landed him with one of the teams that generated the least attention in its pursuit of the star infielder. San Diego didn’t generate as much anticipation as rumors that Machado would choose the Phillies or even the White Sox, but ultimately he stayed on the same coast he was traded to last summer after the Orioles dealt him to the Dodgers.
Career trend in five words: Going where he wants to.
2018: Walking a tightrope
While his talent is undeniable, Machado didn’t exactly enter the market on a positive note. In the course of the postseason alone, he was called out for being a dirty player, admitted he didn’t always hustle (and proved it on the field) and shrugged off the wave of criticism that came his way. Meanwhile, he hit just .227 with a .672 OPS in 16 playoff games.
The most dubious plays came in Games 3 and 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Brewers. In Game 3, Machado made two questionable slides into second base, with arms extended; one was ruled a violation of the slide rule. The next day, Machado kicked Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar in the leg as he crossed the bag, leading both benches to empty.
Machado also took some heat for not running out of the box at times and saying in a TV interview that he’s “not the type of player that’s going to Johnny Hustle and run down the line and slide to first base.”
Despite the self-inflicted hits to his reputation, Machado had his best season at the plate, setting career highs in batting average (.297), slugging (.538), OPS (.905), RBIs (107) and matched his career high with 37 home runs. He also showed he could play shortstop adequately, moving there from third base for the bulk of the season.
Career trend in five words: Talent trumps tantrums, trouble, right?
2017: ‘It’s never me’
Not a great season for Machado with career lows in batting average (.259) and OBP (.310), although he did have 33 homers and 95 RBIs.
Machado also renewed his rivalry with an old foe, the Boston Red Sox. On April 21, Machado spiked second baseman Dustin Pedroia on a late slide, with Pedroia leaving the game. Machado helped Pedroia up and Pedroia absolved Machado of any malice, but the Red Sox, likely with past incidents in mind, didn’t like seeing one of their leaders limping off the field. Two games later, Sox pitchers brushed back Machado more than once, with Matt Barnes missing high and tight, earning him an ejection. Machado didn’t like it.
“I think everyone already knows out there that they think I’m the villain,” he said. “It’s always me — ‘Manny always does something wrong.’ You know, it’s never me. I just go out there and play a game that I love and leave it on the field.”
The following month, Red Sox ace Chris Sale threw a pitch behind Machado’s knees, prompting a postgame, obscenity-laced tirade by Machado about the Red Sox and the league office’s lack of action.
Career trend in five words: Not an overall good look
2016: Steady as he goes
A third All-Star appearance and a fifth-place finish in American League MVP voting kept Machado’s star on the rise. He hit .294 with 37 home runs, 96 RBIs, a .533 slugging percentage and .876 OPS, all career highs at the time, with a 6.9 WAR.
Machado again was at the center of controversy when he charged the mound throwing punches after being hit on the hip by Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura. The tension started earlier in the game when Ventura threw inside on Machado a few times before Machado hit a fly ball to left. Thinking he had a home run, Machado stood and watched the ball, which was blown back into play and was caught for an out. The two exchanged words before Machado went to the dugout.
Ventura was the primary culprit this time, but Machado’s temper (and reputation) cost him a four-game suspension at a time he was leading the AL in WAR and the Orioles were in a tight race for the division lead. It also ended his streak of 229 consecutive starts.
Career trend in five words: Consistency, for better and worse
2015: Everything comes together
Machado’s breakout season with a career-best 7.1 WAR, 35 home runs (previous high was 14), a .286/.359/.502 slash line, 20 stolen bases and his second Gold Glove as his penchant for spectacular plays drew comparisons to Orioles legend Brooks Robinson.
Machado also was the only player in baseball to play all 162 games after missing half of the previous season with a knee injury. It all earned him a fourth-place finish in the MVP voting (behind Josh Donaldson, Mike Trout and Lorenzo Cain).
Career trend in five words: As good as it gets
2014: Temper, temper
Offseason knee surgery delayed the start to Machado’s season until May 1, then he injured the other knee in August, requiring season-ending surgery. The injuries limited Machado to 82 games, and he missed Baltimore’s run to the AL Championship Series.
That didn’t prevent Machado from having his most bizarre incident during a series against Oakland. On June 7, Machado took issue with a tag applied by A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson, slamming his helmet to the ground and jawing with Donaldson, sparking both benches to empty. The next night, Machado irked the A’s when he hit catcher Derek Norris with his backswing twice without apologizing.
In the series finale, A’s reliever Fernando Abad threw a pair of brushback pitches at Machado, and after the second, Machado flung his bat, which wound up behind third base. That brought another bench-clearing brawl and a five-game suspension for Machado, who later apologized for his actions.
Career trend in five words: Negative vibes start showing signs
2013: All-around star
Machado blossomed in his first full season, making his first All-Star team, winning a Gold Glove at third base and leading the American League with 51 doubles to go with 14 home runs, .283 average, .746 OPS and 6.5 WAR.
He was the second player in MLB history with 50 doubles in his age-20 season or younger (joining Alex Rodriguez, 54 in 1996) and finished nine in AL MVP voting. The only downside was that Machado’s season ended a couple of weeks early because of a torn knee ligament that required surgery.
Career trend in five words: Headed in the right direction
2012: Immediate impact
After being drafted third overall by the Orioles in 2010 (behind Bryce Harper and Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon) out of Brito Miami Private School, Machado made his major league debut Aug. 9 at age 20.
Machado, who hit .262 with seven home runs, 26 RBIs and a .739 OPS in 51 games, made the postseason roster and homered in Game 3 of the AL Division Series against the Yankees. At 20 years and 96 days, he was the third-youngest player with a postseason home run (Andruw Jones, 1996, 19 years and 177 days; Harper, 2012, 19 years and 362 days).
Career trend in five words: Ready for the big stage
Manny Machado, San Diego Padres reach deal
The 26-year-old slugger posted a career-high .905 OPS in 2018, finishing the season with a .297/.367/.538 slash line, 37 home runs, 107 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. In 66 regular-season games with the Dodgers, Machado hit .273 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs
Machado spent most of this past season at shortstop, his preferred position, and produced the third-worst Defensive Runs Saved total (minus-13) among the 22 players with enough innings to qualify at that spot. The 26-year-old played a better shortstop upon joining the Dodgers, who gave up five minor leaguers to acquire him from the Orioles on July 18, but his 15-week stint in L.A. was tumultuous.
The former No. 3 overall pick drew incessant criticism for constantly loafing up the first-base line, then fanned the flames when he told Fox Sports during the postseason that hustling is “not my cup of tea.”
“He got booed in Baltimore three weeks before we traded for him,” the Dodgers’ Andrew Friedman said at the general managers meetings on Nov. 6. “It’s not like it was a secret. … I think there are other times where guys do it and they really do care. And by care, I mean the effort they put into their work, the type of teammate they are, and Manny checks all those boxes.”
Machado had several big moments with the Dodgers, several of them while the team was fighting for a sixth consecutive division title in September and a few more during a victorious NL Championship Series. But he hit just .182 in the World Series, committing the final out as the Boston Red Sox won the championship.
Machado was limited to 82 games in 2014, but he has played at least 156 games in each of the past four seasons. He has hit at least 30 home runs and 30 doubles in each of those four seasons, making him one of just two players, along with Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, to reach both of those marks every season since 2015.
He has compiled 29 FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement since his first full season in the majors in 2013, tied with Joey Votto for sixth among position players since then. Only Mike Trout, Josh Donaldson, Paul Goldschmidt, Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve have a higher WAR in that six-year stretch.
ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez contributed to this report.
MLB — Think Bryce and Manny are hot commodities? They can’t touch Mike Trout
Mike Trout returns to his hometown of Millville, N.J. whenever he can — this is where he will live when his baseball career ends — because he can just be himself, with hours out of each day spent with family. The folks in the town know him, he knows them, and he can go about his life being treated like their neighbor Mike. The son of Debbie and Jeff, the brother of Teal and Tyler, Jess’s husband.
In a sense, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a baseball version of his hometown — this great, comfortable place, where the people of the organization fully appreciate him for who he is. He knows them, they know him, and knowing how much he does for them daily, the organization endeavors to give him his space, to allow him do what he wants to do. When the Angels are home, Trout leaves his house near the water, heads to the park and plays the game he loves, his professional life as free of complication as any superstar could hope for. Millville West.
The question is: Will Trout’s desire to win the most important games of the year drive him out of this safe place in southern California?
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