The Tigers have put veteran slugger Miguel Cabrera on the 10-day injured list due to a left biceps strain, the team announced. Renato Nunez’s contract has been selected to take Cabrera’s spot on the active roster, and right-hander Julio Teheran was moved to the 60-day IL to open up room for Nunez on the 40-man roster.
As noted by MLB.com’s Jason Beck and a Twitter follower, the injury looks to have occurred during Cabrera’s plate appearance in the seventh inning of yesterday’s 11-3 Tigers loss to the Indians. Cabrera remained in the game as a first baseman and was replaced for a pinch-hitter during his next at-bat, a substitution that seemed more like a nod to the blowout score than an indication Cabrera was hurt.
This isn’t the first time Cabrera has dealt with a left biceps injury, as a ruptured tendon back in June 2018 prematurely ended his 2018 campaign after just 38 games. There isn’t yet any indication that this current problem is anywhere near as serious, however, and there isn’t yet any timeline on when Cabrera could be back in action.
Cabrera (who turns 38 in a week) has gotten off to a tough start, with only a .514 OPS through his first 27 plate appearances of 2021. After working exclusively as a DH in 2020, Cabrera has more or less split his starts between first base and designated hitter this season.
Any time missed will delay Cabrera’s quest for two statistical milestones — he currently stands 131 hits shy of the 3,000-hit club, and 12 home runs shy of the 500-homer club. Cabrera’s ticket to Cooperstown is already all but punched, of course, but he would be only the seventh player in baseball history to reach both the 3,000-hit and 500-homer plateaus, joining Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, Albert Pujols, Eddie Murray, Alex Rodriguez, and Rafael Palmeiro.
Nunez signed a minor league deal with Detroit back in February, and though he didn’t make the team out of Spring Training, Nunez chose to forego his opt-out clause and remain with the Tigers despite some minor league offers from other clubs. He now might step into regular (and perhaps even everyday) work as the Tigers’ new first baseman with Cabrera on the shelf, though Nunez will also see some action at DH and perhaps at third base if Jeimer Candelario is shifted across the diamond to get some time at first base.
The Orioles released Nunez prior to the non-tender deadline rather than pay the 27-year-old a salary projected to fall somewhere between $2.1M and $3.9M. Nunez has been a generally above-average hitter (105 wRC+, 106 OPS+) over the last three seasons, hitting .250/.316/.457 with 51 home runs over 1,076 PA with the Rangers and Orioles. Without much to offer in the way of OBP or fielding acumen at third base, however, Nunez was deemed expendable by the cost-cutting O’s.
Teheran was only placed on the 10-day IL yesterday with a right shoulder strain, and manager A.J. Hinch said that the veteran hurler would miss a significant amount of time while recovering, so the 60-day IL assignment isn’t any surprise. Teheran signed a minor league deal with Detroit over the winter and locked in a guaranteed $3M salary when he made the team. Teheran suffered his shoulder problem just minutes before he was scheduled for his second start in a Tigers uniform.