Miggy an MVP on the field and in the community

Miggy an MVP on the field and in the community

Miggy an MVP on the field and in the community

DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera didn't grow up anywhere near the Motor City, and he had already established himself as one of the game's great hitters before he arrived in 2008. However, he has become the face of the Tigers in the community over the past couple years.

In that sense, he is following the examples set by two Tigers he idolized when he was younger and followed when he came over to the team.

Magglio Ordonez made an impact on southwest Detroit during his time as a Tiger, establishing a scholarship fund for deserving high school graduates and making a major donation to renovate two baseball diamonds and build another at St. Hedwig Park.

Carlos Guillen did his part to welcome deserving kids to Tigers games and took part in clinics. He also made a major impact in his hometown of Maracay, Venezuela, helping fix ballfields and donating money and equipment to hospitals.

Ordonez and Guillen were Cabrera's mentors when he joined the Tigers. Now, Cabrera is carrying on the effort in his own way.

"When you have time, you need to give something back," Cabrera said. "It's not only about playing baseball. It's about interacting with the fans and trying to do something for the kids."

As Major League Baseball recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month, Cabrera is also picking up recognition for his presence in the community. For the second straight year, he is the Tigers' nominee for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, given annually to the player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community development.

Cabrera established his foundation a couple years ago to help renovate youth baseball fields. Cabrera's foundation just helped to renovate a field in his native Maracay, Venezuela, but also has targeted places to help in Detroit, as well as Miami, his offseason home.

Among Cabrera's goals this year, both with his foundation and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, is to repair a baseball diamond at Clark Park in southwest Detroit.

"We're trying to save fields, to have a chance for kids to go out there and have fun, try to give them the opportunity to go out there and stay off the street," Cabrera said at a fundraiser earlier this season. "I'm trying to give them a chance to play baseball for fun. When you're a kid, you play to have fun."

Cabrera also has become the annual host of Keeping Kids in the Game, an August fundraiser to help support children's health and youth baseball programs facilitated by the Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation, the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and the Detroit Tigers Foundation.

The fact that Guillen, a Clemente Award nominee from the Tigers in 2010, once hosted the fundraiser makes it fitting.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.