(97.1 The Ticket) Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was fed up after "three days of bad pitches."
Cabrera was ejected in the first inning of Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Red Soxfor arguing the strike zone from the dugout after he was rung up on a called third strike by home plate umpire Will Little. It was the 11th ejection of Cabrera's career and second this season.
The frustration boiled over after the game – the Tigers' 14th loss in 16 games and their 25th home loss in the last 28 at Comerica Park – as Cabrera discussed the ejection, as well as the frustrations of a brutal 28-57 first half of the season as the team heads to the All-Star break.
“Why are you throwing me out? Because that pitch, it was inside. That was a ball,” Cabrera said he told the umpire, speaking to reporters after the game. “You can argue that was a strike, I understand that. But this series, I got three days of bad pitches.”
Cabrera said Friday’s home plate umpire told him his strike zone was different that Red Sox star Mookie Betts’ because he is taller than Betts.
“Why does he (have) a different strike zone because he’s shorter? Why do they call a low pitch a strike for me if he’s not taller?” Cabrera said.
While arguing, umpire Joe West apparently told Cabrera he has to be a leader, and he responded, “That’s why I’m here. I’m trying to be a leader because it has not been fair the way you guys have been calling balls and strikes recently.
Cabrera took the opportunity Sunday to address claims from fans and media that he is not a leader within the clubhouse. Referencing comments from former Tiger and current Fox Sports Detroit analyst Jack Morris in the Detroit Free Press last week, Cabrera defended his method of leadership.
“The umpire said ‘yo, be a leader.’ That’s a different thing,” Cabrera told reporters. “Because I want to be a leader here. I want to show people… Jack Morris said ‘he’s not a leader.’ What the f*** is he talking about? You don’t know what’s going on here. I’m not going to go up to a guy and go ‘oh, you’re doing this wrong,’ and ‘bro you’re wrong.’ No, no. I go to a guy like, ‘bro, you’re okay. You’re okay. Tomorrow’s a new day. You’re good.’
"You know what I mean? I’m not a guy to crucify some guy. I’m here to say ‘you’re okay. You’re here in the Big Leagues for one reason. Because you’re good. We believe in your talents.’”
In a Free Press story on June 29, Morris seemingly questioned Cabrera’s leadership:
“There’s a lot of guys that have leadership qualities in that clubhouse, there’s no doubt in my mind. The problem is, you need to have wins. Wins say more than anything else. You can talk all you want (but) you got to show it," Morris said in the story.
With the Tigers lacking the veterans of years past, there was a hope slugger Miguel Cabrera would be a mentor for the younger players — both the current ones and future prospects down the road. But that hasn’t always appeared to be the case.
“You can’t ask a guy to be anything he’s not,” Morris said. “Miggy has always loved the game. He has fun playing the game. That’s who he is.”
The story from the Free Press says Morris had a conversation with Cabrera before batting practice one day back in May, but the Hall-of-Famer declined to say what the two discussed.
Cabrera, batting .304 with 36 RBIs and five home runs this season, told reporters what he says to his teammates is personal – between himself and the player.
“You don’t have to say that. That’s wrong,” he said of Morris’s comments. “We care. We want to win.”
Cabrera said Nicholas Castellanos approached him last week and told him of the comments, and he says that’s not something the players should worry about.
“Castellanos told me that. He took me in that morning and Castellanos was so mad. I said ‘why do you worry about that? You’ve got a game to play,’” Cabrera said Sunday. “(Castellanos replied), ‘Miggy, that’s (b******t.’ I said ‘no, no, no, that’s not b******t, that’s what he thinks. You don’t have to worry about what he thinks. You have to worry about how you’re going to go out there and be good. And that’s it.’”
To clarify things, Cabrera called Castellanos to his locker to speak with reporters on Sunday.
“We all understand that Jack has an opinion and he’s entitled to that,” Castellanos said, as Cabrera chimed in: “he’s a Hall-of-Famer.”
“But who did he have in the clubhouse with him? What mentalities did those guys have? How much experience did those guys have? What place were those guys in their career? Those were all ingredients that come into play when you’re creating a team that’s going for a World Series,” Castellanos said. “I think it’s unfortunate that those are the comments you make about a clubhouse with a bunch of young kids who are trying to not only keep their spot, but figure out who they are. Because it’s not like we have guys who are playing one position every day. How many utility guys do we have? So we have guys who are trying to keep their job in the Big Leagues and trying to play multiple positions while having success and not getting success.”
Cabrera said it’s frustrating that many people feel he’s not being a leader in the clubhouse, when in fact, he is. He says he leads by example and by talking with players in private. He felt he was leading Sunday when he argued the strike zone because he feels umpires are not calling the strike zone the same way for young players as they are for him -- and that's not fair to them.
“Exactly. Because the way (the media) want me to lead, is not the way I’m leading. I’m leading (quietly). Nobody sees that s***. I don’t want you guys to see this because it’s special," he said. “I mean, by example, yeah, but when you lead by example, that’s out on the field. When you lead by talking, it’s here."
He called Castellanos one of the team’s leaders, who in turn said, "I’m not one for the limelight."
“I think that the guy who has to beat on his chest and call himself a leader is the opposite,” Castellanos said. “All I try to implement is that every guy in here is in charge of their career, the way they go about their business and a lot of times, unfortunately, you have to let these kids learn these lessons on their own. I had to learn a lot of lessons on my own before I got to a place where I’m showing up to the ballpark ready to kick a** every day. Very few times does that just happen.”
Cabrera told members of the media, “I know you guys be hard to me, but I don’t be mad at you guys. That’s what it is. He said ‘I won’t lead this team.’ That’s b******t. I want to be good.”
He says he hasn't had the chance to talk with Morris about the comments, but hopes to.
"Because I want to talk to him. He’s got to explain why he said that," Cabrera said.