"He has a groin [injury], they say Grade 2, Grade 3, which means there's some tearing of fibers in that area," Dombrowski said. "It was not going to heal with rest, we were assured of that."
An examination by Dr. William Meyers, a specialist in Philadelphia, led to the diagnosis. The Tigers had Cabrera fly in to see Dr. Meyers before the start of the postseason. He's expected to visit again shortly to evaluate whether surgery is required.
If Cabrera does have surgery, Dombrowski said, he's expected to be fully recovered in time for Spring Training.
Cabrera actually had two injuries down the stretch. The first was an abdominal strain that began bothering him around the end of June. He played through that and showed no signs of being limited, other than some limitations in his mobility.
"When he had the abdominal strain, he played the month of August and was Player of the Month, even though it continued to restrict him," Dombrowski said.
The groin strain was a separate injury, and it happened down the stretch.
"He hurt his groin against the White Sox when he slid into second base," Dombrowski said. "The abdominal strain became healed, and then the groin became a problem."
Though Dombrowski didn't give a specific date, the description points toward Sept. 21, when Cabrera tried to stretch a single off the right-field fence into a double. His old teammate, Avisail Garcia, threw him out at second.
Even before that, though, Cabrera was becoming increasingly limited, and the debate over whether Cabrera would be better off resting for a couple weeks was picking up momentum. When the question came up, team officials consistently said they were told he could not make the injury worse.
What Dombrowski said Monday was that they knew rest wouldn't make it better, unless they shut him down for the season.
"If somebody would have said to us, 'Put him on the DL for a couple weeks and he'll be better,' we would have put him on the DL," Dombrowski said.
For his part, Cabrera did not want to be shut down, according to Dombrowski. When the Tigers finally decided to have a specialist look at it, they had to convince Cabrera it was the right thing to do.
"The reason he did not go see Dr. Meyers earlier in the process is Miguel did not want to go," Dombrowski said. "I think he anticipated hearing what he was going to hear and he chose not to do that, despite every encouragement he could possibly have. He wanted to keep playing.
"He felt that he was going to be shut down, and in fact we had to assure him when he went to see Dr. Meyers, when we flew him up there prior to the postseason, we gave him the guarantee that if he saw Dr. Meyers he wouldn't be shut down under any circumstances. Because he just did not want to be shut down."
Cabrera struggled through the postseason, clearly limited. He hit .278, mundane by his standards, with only one home run in September. He recovered a bit in October, hitting a key home run in Game 5 of the AL Division Series in Oakland before hitting another against Boston in the AL Championship Series, but the issues seemingly hampered him at the plate.
Many people around baseball speculated that Cabrera had a sports hernia, but Tigers officials denied that. Even if it isn't, a Grade 3 groin injury is considered significant, just shy of near complete tear or a rupture.