Tigers GM stands by Cabrera after new allegations
AP Sports Writer
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) – The latest allegations of belligerent behavior by Miguel Cabrera won’t change his status with the Detroit Tigers, general manager Dave Dombrowski said Thursday.
Documents released by the Florida state attorney’s office accuse Cabrera of threatening a manager at a restaurant shortly before the slugger’s arrest Feb. 16 in Fort Pierce on suspicion of drunken driving.
“There are new things that have come out,” Dombrowski said, “but it’s the same thing we’ve been dealing with (since) he came to camp, really. It’s no different from the club’s perspective.”
Cabrera has struggled with drinking-related problems in the past. After reporting to spring training last month following his arrest, he said he would undergo treatment set up by doctors and administered by management and the players’ union.
Cabrera worked out Thursday at the team complex in Lakeland and wasn’t with the Tigers for their game in Jupiter against the Florida Marlins. That was the plan even before the documents from the state attorney’s office became public, the Tigers said.
He’s scheduled to play Friday in Jupiter against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“He’s focused on the field when it comes to being on the field, and he’s dealing with the issues that he needs to deal with,” Dombrowski said. “We already have our plan put into place as far as the support cast (for him) is involved. That has already taken place, and those things have taken place since the first day he arrived in camp. That doesn’t change based on any news that comes into play, because that program is very strong as it is.”
According to the documents released Wednesday, restaurant manager Fletcher D. Nail told police a man entered after the business closed, was told to leave, then said “I will kill you” to Nail. Nail says he told the man to leave, and the man looked around and said: “I know all you, and I will kill all of you and blow this place up.”
The man left, and the manager said he did not realize until the next day that it was Cabrera.
A police report by officer Michael Otto Muller said Cabrera was belligerent with officers. Muller’s report said at one point, Cabrera walked out into the highway with his hands in the air, shouting “shoot me, kill me” along with an expletive.
Cabrera is being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and resisting an officer without violence, both misdemeanors.
Gayle Braun, an assistant state attorney for St. Lucie County, said Cabrera has waived arraignment and submitted a written plea of not guilty. His next court date is April 15 for a docket call, although he is allowed to waive his appearance. The Tigers will be in the middle of a series at Oakland that day.
Cabrera is coming off perhaps his best season. He hit .328 with 38 home runs last year and finished second in the American League MVP vote.
Dombrowski was asked if he expects similar productivity from Cabrera this year.
“He’s a very good player,” Dombrowski said. “He has some issues he’s dealing with, but they’re two separate things. I know he’s approaching what he needs to off the field, and I expect him to go out there and be a very good player for us.”
Manager Jim Leyland declined to comment, but infield coach Rafael Belliard said the 27-year-old Cabrera still has some growing up to do.
“I hope he does it, because there’s a lot of talent there,” Belliard said. “Everybody here is behind him. Our job is to help him out.”
Any DUI arrest in Florida includes an automatic roadside suspension of driving privileges, and the suspect can request an administrative hearing to have them reinstated. Cabrera’s hearing with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles was supposed to be Thursday, but a continuance was requested and granted.
A DHSMV spokesman said Cabrera’s hearing date is now scheduled for April 6, but Cabrera does not have to be present. The Tigers play at Baltimore that night.
Florida attorney Michael Kessler is representing Cabrera. His office said he has no comment about the case or the new documents.
AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in Detroit contributed to this report.