Tigers' Miguel Cabrera feels unappreciated, says 'I'm done playing hurt'

Miguel Cabrera has the Detroit Tigers in a difficult position. He's locked up with the team until 2024, at which point the Tigers will have an option for $30 million -- when Cabrera is 41 years old. Despite the team option, the end of the eight-year contract Cabrera signed in 2016 now looks a ways away for Tigers fans, and Cabrera has taken notice.

Cabrera, who went on the 10-day disabled list on May 4 with a hamstring injury, is no longer in any rush to come back. 

"I went through that last year, so I don't want to do the same thing," he said of rushing back from injury, via Mlive. "Nobody appreciates you when you play hurt, so I'm going to take my time and play when I'm good. I played hurt a lot of years here in Detroit. They don't appreciate that. When you are doing bad, they crush you. They crush you. They say you're bad, you should go home, you don't deserve anything, you're old. I say, 'OK, I'm done playing hurt.' Now I take my time."

To Cabrera's credit, he had a strong first month. He batted .323, had three home runs and nine doubles in 93 at-bats, and he's still slugging a solid .516. It was looking like a good bounce-back year after a horrific 2017, after which many people wrote him off as washed, but Cabrera still doesn't feel like he gets his due.  

He had two herniated disks cut his season short last year, and he's had myriad aches and pains since he signed the contract in 2016. The worst part is that, even if Cabrera plays, the Tigers aren't demonstrably better. The Tigers haven't been the abject failure they were expected to be headed into this season, but there are no delusions around the team contending for much of anything this year. The Tigers can't even use Cabrera as a loaner to a contending team because his contract is so incredibly restrictive.

Cabrera was eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but he's staying true to his word in taking his time. He did try to accelerate his rehab, which led to more back pain, according to Mlive. The fact is, Cabrera is now 35. These things start to happen as you age, and Cabrera is aging.

For better or for worse, the Tigers are riding out this contract with Cabrera. That much is an inevitability. However, they're now at the mercy of their $248 million man. Cabrera is slated to make $30 million until 2022, at which point he'll make $32 million in each of the last two years of his deal. Until then, they'll just have to continue to rely on younger, developing players to help them inch their way back into competing for what has been an incredibly lackluster AL Central to this point in the season.

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