DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera may have worried those around him by grimacing in the batter's box during a ninth-inning at-bat on Tuesday. However, the Tigers could breathe a sigh of relief as Cabrera was back in the lineup on Wednesday against the Twins and is feeling better than before.
"You're always concerned about him," manager Jim Leyland said. "Obviously, he's been playing hurt for a while now, so I wasn't sure how he was going to be today. But he said he felt better today than he did yesterday. That was good news."
Cabrera punctuated his return with a three-run double in the eighth inning of Detroit's 7-1 victory over the Twins.
Cabrera has been dealing with an abdominal wall strain near his hip flexor for about a month and he tweaked it while swinging through a first-pitch slider. While Cabrera never asked for a trainer, it raised a lot of concern among fans and the team.
"I thought the same thing on the stairs," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. "When we got him, we evaluated him and it wasn't too bad. To be honest with you, I had to see what it looked like today to know whether he was going to be OK, going to need a day or two, or whatever the case may be.
"The thing is, he made the grimace, but the way he felt a little better [Wednesday], maybe it was something he needed to kind of work through."
Although Cabrera won't miss any time with the latest scare, the team believes he can recover from his injury while playing. Cabrera's sore knee and bruised shin from foul balls in an at-bat against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera over a week ago have improved.
"It's going to get better for him a little bit slower because he is out there," Rand said. "He's going to tweak it every now and again, because he starts feeling really good and then he starts to do something [that gives him pain]."
The Tigers have discussed the idea of placing Cabrera on the 15-day disabled list twice -- when he initially sustained the injury in Chicago and missed four games and later when he tweaked it against the Phillies and missed three games. However, Rand said he never thought Cabrera's injury would sideline him for the entire 15 days.
"We may have to give him days here, days there, and then we have the comfort to give him three or four days -- obviously we do and we have," Rand said. "But at the same time, you could have disabled him after he tweaked it in that Philadelphia series and he would have missed that whole road trip where he obviously played very, very well."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.