“It is not going to be a disruption for our team. Trust me,” Leyland emphatically said Friday. “I’m the field manager. I manage the players on the field. Our clubhouse will be great, and our team has a hell of a chance to be an outstanding team.”
Pitchers and catchers have been working out this week, but the full team takes the field Saturday, and position players have begun arriving.
Cabrera was “very embarrassed” and planned to apologize to his teammates and the Tigers organization when reporting to camp Saturday, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Thursday. The person said he talked to Cabrera after the slugger was released from jail, then spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the incident.
“It’s not going to affect the team at all,” Leyland said. “You think Magglio Ordonez and those guys are going to go about their business any different?”
Detroit is hoping to contend for the AL Central title after adding players like Victor Martinez and Brad Penny in the offseason. Cabrera is the lineup’s centerpiece. He hit .328 with 38 home runs last year and finished second in the American League MVP vote to Texas’ Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton’s award capped an incredible comeback for a player whose career was derailed by well-documented cocaine and alcohol addictions after he got hurt in the minors. Hamilton cautioned that he didn’t necessarily know enough about Cabrera’s situation to offer too much advice.
“The thing we don’t know is, is it an isolated incident or something that’s been there?” Hamilton said. “It’s tough to assess the situation unless you have the facts. I couldn’t give any advice unless I knew what’s going on.”
Nobody doubts Cabrera’s physical ability, but teammates are concerned about him. He’s struggled with drinking-related problems in the past. Late in the 2009 season, police said Cabrera got into a fight with his wife after a night of drinking.
“We all want him to get in here, so we can let him know that we love him, and we embrace him and support him,” catcher Alex Avila said. “Stuff like that, that’s not something you just turn off and is easy to get over. You need a little help. That’s something we all want to give him.”
Ordonez said he hasn’t spoken with Cabrera since his arrest.