CLEVELAND -- Miguel Cabrera takes a lot of pride in his defense. When Jim Leyland moved him from first to third base before last season, Leyland assured that he wouldn't be taking Cabrera out late in games for defensive purposes.
What's going on now is a different situation. This isn't the fully healthy, defensively mobile Cabrera. And against an Indians team that has clearly shown an inclination to take advantage of that, Leyland is wary.
Cabrera is healthy enough to hit, as his go-ahead home run in the eighth inning showed Wednesday night. He's certainly healthy enough to trot. Running, though, is still an issue.
As soon as Cabrera's go-ahead homer had cleared the fence Wednesday night, Leyland was getting his defensive moves in place, including Don Kelly shifting in from the outfield to replace Cabrera at third. It wasn't about the risk of re-injury, at least not primarily. It was about the risk of a rally.
"My star came out of the game because we all felt that it was the best to have our better defense in there, the way he's been feeling," Leyland said. "The reason I took him out is the same reason I took him out last night, because he's not 100 percent by any means."
Leyland said he has talked with Cabrera about this so he knows what's going on. The fact that Cabrera mentions winning first and foremost when he talks after games these days suggests he's on board.
Cabrera said after the game that he feels OK. He did not aggravate something during the game that would have forced him to leave.