Cabrera leaves game early for Tigers

Cabrera leaves game early for Tigers

DETROIT -- Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera left Monday's game against the Royals with upper-back tightness after grounding out in his first at-bat.

There were no obvious injury concerns with Cabrera going into the game. When Major League Baseball announced a four-game suspension for Gary Sheffield, it opened up the designated hitter slot. That went to Magglio Ordonez, who had been dealing with some leg soreness in recent days.

Cabrera has had no back problems this season, but he has been playing every day at first. He has started every game since the All-Star break, while getting occasional breaks in the late innings of games that are out of reach. His bat has shown no signs of fatigue; he entered Monday's action batting .343 (23-for-67) with an American League-high seven home runs and 21 RBIs in September. The home run total has moved him into a tie with injured White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin for the AL lead with 36.

However, Cabrera moved back to the dugout slowly after grounding out to lead off the bottom of the second inning. Rookie Jeff Larish replaced him at first base when the Tigers took the field for the third. The Tigers listed Cabrera as day-to-day.

We'll just have to wait and see," manager Jim Leyland said. "I don't think it's anything serious, but I've been down that road before."

If Cabrera does play on Tuesday, it'll be at designated hitter. That spot is open for the next few games while Sheffield serves his four-game suspension for last Friday's fracas at Cleveland, and Leyland used it Monday to give Ordonez a day out of the field. He already planned on playing Cabrera there Tuesday before the back injury so that he could rest Cabrera, who also has a bruised leg from a foul ball last week at Texas.

"Obviously, he wants to play," Leyland said. "First of all, he loves to play. And second, he's got a little something at stake. So he wants to be out there. He was hurting tonight. It tightened up on him pretty good, evidently."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.