DETROIT -- A day after Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Miguel Cabrera would get a day off if his sore right ankle was hampering him at the plate, reality set in. While Cabrera can still play as the designated hitter, the Tigers need him back at third base if they're going to get their offense going.
Thus, as Leyland sat in his office on a quiet Sunday morning, he took account of his roster, took a deep breath, talked it over with Cabrera and made the difficult decision to sit his American League Most Valuable Player award candidate for a day. The fact that it was the rubber game of a series against an AL Wild Card competitor didn't make it any easier.
"I didn't even sleep [Saturday] night," Leyland said. "I talked to a lot of people. I made a couple calls last night. I talked to my coaches all day."
Sunday's decision wasn't about Sunday at all, though. It was about the 5 1/2 weeks left in the season after that.
"At the end of the day, what's best for Miguel Cabrera is best for the Tigers," Leyland said. "And it was best for Miguel Cabrera to sit today. I believe that with all my heart. I don't even have any question about it."
The timing goes back to Leyland's long-held philosophy about resting guys ahead of an off-day. It's essentially two days off for the price of one, providing double the rest. The fact that it was a day game after a night game didn't hurt, either, as opposed to resting somebody on Tuesday in Kansas City.
Leyland believe it'll pay off by having Cabrera back at third base on Tuesday.
"I'm pretty confident that Miguel will play third base in the Kansas City series," Leyland said. "Now, would I etch that in stone? No, I can't, but I'm pretty confident he'll play third base. I think this did wonders for him. It has nothing to do with the fact that we won the game."
Delmon Young returned to his usual DH spot after back-to-back games in left field, but stayed in his usual lineup slot, batting fifth behind Prince Fielder. Brennan Boesch returned to the lineup for just the second time in nine days, batting sixth. Andy Dirks played left field and batted third.
Third-base duties fell to Jeff Baker for the second consecutive game.