CHICAGO -- The Detroit Tigers find themselves in a familiar position to a year ago at this time in regard to star first baseman Miguel Cabrera.
Just as former manager Jim Leyland did a year ago, first-year manager Brad Ausmus is trying to negotiate a balancing act with Cabrera's health.
Last season it was a torn groin that Cabrera insisted on playing through, which limited his ability on the field. This year, it's soreness in his right ankle that is sapping his power and production at the plate.
Cabrera, 31, didn't start the finale of a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday afternoon, after leaving the second game of a split doubleheader Saturday in the fourth inning.
"I don't know if four or five days (off) will do anything, because sometimes he comes in from sleeping overnight and feels good," Ausmus said. "We really want Miggy in the lineup because he's such a valuable part of this team, such a great player and he's just a presence being in the lineup ... but we obviously need him to be healthy, too, so it's a delicate balance."
Ausmus said after the doubleheader Saturday that he and Cabrera had talked about possibly sitting the two-time American League MVP down for up to five days to see if that would help. Cabrera's offensive numbers are down by his own lofty standards, the same season he signed an eight-year contract extension worth a reported $240 million.
"We talked to him about (resting) in Detroit a couple days ago, so it's a possibility," Ausmus said. "I said, 'If we think it's necessary, we can do this,' but he kind of balked at that. Miggy wants to play. He's kind of old-school in that sense. A lot of people would not play with the type of injuries that Miggy's had over the past two seasons, so I give the guy a lot of credit."
Asked if he thinks Cabrera can get enough rest to heal the injury in the season's final month, Ausmus didn't waste time responding.
"I would be shocked," he said.
In other words, the day-by-day balancing act will likely continue through the end of the season, just as it did a year ago.
"He's so valuable, it makes it hard (to sit him down)," Ausmus said. "As much as we use day-by-day, he literally is day-to-day because some days he comes in and feels really good and some days he comes in and it's still sore."