Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit
By STEVE KORNACKI  |  Last updated 8/17/13
DETROIT Watching Miguel Cabrera do the incredible has become such a common occurrence that its almost expected. What you did not anticipate seeing after Cabrera hit his sixth career walk-off homer, making his Detroit Tigers 6-5 winners over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night, was the quick strides and fluid gait he displayed while circling the bases. Cabrera has been playing hurt for more than six weeks. And hes added a bruised shin and knee to the abdominal strain that causes hip problems. So, Cabrera was forced to jog all the way to second base with a fourth-inning double and was barely safe with a slide that made you cringe. Would he be OK? Havent we all wondered that numerous times in recent weeks as he slid into first base or used a pop-up slide to catch a shallow pop up because he wasnt physically able to dive forward to catch it? I asked Cabrera about the wonders of adrenaline as he sprinted around the bases to the raucous sounds of a sellout crowd shouting themselves hoarse. You hit a home run like that, he said with a wide smile, and youre loose and smooth. It was like very fast. Ive never seen a player play so hurt for so long and continue putting up MVP numbers. Cabrera has knocked in 18 runs with seven homers in the last 13 games. Two of those homers brought about blown saves for career saves leader Mariano Rivera, and the first one came after he fouled pitches off his left knee and shin to cause those painful bruises. I asked Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand about his treatment of Cabrera before the game. Rand said he or one of the trainers not only gets him ready to play but also administers follow-up care after games. Cabrera spends a great deal of time getting ready to play each and every day. Its about healing slowly and getting better, said Rand, adding that there is no structural damage that could be had by Cabrera playing in this pain. Its all about wanting it. And Cabrera wants it like few whove ever played the game. Rand said he has an incredible will to play through pain, stiffness and whatever injuries come his way. And he is improving, shelving the notions that perhaps a stay on the disabled list is in order. I feel much better than last week, Cabrera said after the game. Hes missed eight games during this time, but none since Aug. 3. Cabrera said that he hoped to feel even better after Mondays off day, and if he does he might even catch Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis for the homer lead and become the first back-to-back Triple Crown winner. Im totally amazed what Im seeing because I cant believe what Im seeing, to be honest with you, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Cabreras playing and excelling through pain. You just want to make sure when you see it every day that you just dont take it for granted. I think Ill have probably a greater appreciation for this when my time is done, whenever that is. (Cabreras) unbelievable. I dont know how else to describe it. Ive never seen anything like this and Ive been in (pro baseball for) 50 years. Former Tigers power hitter Willie Horton, now a special assistant for the club, said he knows what gets Cabrera through the pain. I played the whole season in 67 with an Achilles problem, said Horton. Id play and go home and pack it in ice. Thats all I did all year. Id tell (manager) Mayo (Smith) how he could play me. Two days after the season, after we lost the pennant in the last game, I was in the hospital having surgery. But players get the adrenaline from the fans and teammates when they get out there on the field, and thats what enables you to play hurt. (Al) Kaline did; (Albert) Pujols does, too. The great players do that. Eye of the Tiger blared over Comerica Parks public address system before Cabrera led off the ninth inning with the score tied and nearly every fan among the 41,850 standing and cheering him on. Then, with a 3-1 count, he drilled a low, outside fastball from Aaron Crow on a rope down the right field line. It hit the concrete wall behind the camera well just left of the foul pole. Cabrera said hed tried doing too much earlier in the game and learned from that. I focused on putting the ball in play and not trying to do too much, said Cabrera, smiling softly. Relax, relax. You feel the pressure, but at the same time you are excited. Royals manager Ned Yost said, Theres not three hitters in baseball that could hit that pitch out of the ballpark. Hes one of them. Take your hat off to him. Cabrera had been 0-for-7 against Crow, who pitched at Missouri with Tigers hurler Max Scherzer, but wouldnt take a walk against a pitcher who had experienced rare success against him. And so, there he was, floating around the bases with the fluid strides of an Austin Jackson. His teammates bounded for joy with him at the plate when he reached it, and Cabrera pounded his chest on the Olde English D while acknowledging the screaming fans in front of the dugout. They chanted: M-V-P! M-V-P! And Cabrera came back on the field to raise both arms as high as he could to salute them. Matt Shepard interviewed Cabrera for FOX Sports Detroit, and Prince Fielder crept behind them to douse both with a bucket of ice water. Miggy was stunned, but smiled and turned to clasp hands with his good buddy. Hed done the incredible once more conquering both the situation and enough injuries to stop a normal man.
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