DETROIT -- Magglio Ordonez has pulled a vanishing act from Comerica Park since his season-ending ankle surgery a month ago, but he's kept in touch through teammates such as Miguel Cabrera. And Cabrera told reporters on Wednesday that his good friend and veteran hitter wants to be back next season, even if he ends up a free agent this winter.
"I've talked to him," Cabrera said. "He said he feels better. He wants so bad to play, but his injury, he feels bad. He wants to come back next year here. He wants to stay here."
Whether the Tigers' front office feels the same remains to be seen, and it represents one of the biggest decisions they have to make this offseason. It became their choice when Ordonez fractured his right ankle on a slide at the plate July 24. The resulting time missed ensured he wouldn't end the season with enough plate appearances to vest the final year of his contract.
Thus, his $15 million option for 2011 became a team option that the club must either pick up or decline in the days after the World Series ends. If the Tigers decline, Ordonez becomes a free agent, able to sign with any team, including re-signing with Detroit, for whatever salary he and agent Scott Boras can negotiate.
"And I want him to be back," Cabrera added. "[He's an] excellent hitter, great player, great teammate."
After six seasons in Detroit, Ordonez has almost as much time there as he did with the White Sox, where he spent the first seven years of his career. His signing with the Tigers in January 2005 was a huge deal for a team still on the rebound from years of futility, and his walk-off home run in Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS stands as one of the biggest homers in franchise history.
Ordonez and his family have also become personally involved with the city. They established a scholarship fund for deserving students in Detroit's primarily Hispanic southwestern neighborhoods, and Ordonez made a donation to help refurbish a baseball field in the city.
At age 37, moving the family for a summer might not be the most appealing option.
"It would be good if he's back next year," Cabrera said. "They love him here. The city loves him here. They love Magglio. He's got to grow the hair again."
Cabrera hoping for MVP consideration
DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera knows how the voting process for American League MVP honors works. He knows players for playoff teams tend to get more consideration. He's hoping he can be an exception, because the award means that much to him.
"It's special," Cabrera admitted on Wednesday, "because it's like you want that in your career, to get the MVP someday. If it doesn't happen, that's OK with me. I've got to work harder to help the team win next year and it's going to be a different case.
"I know if we go to the playoffs or we win, it's going to be different. But that's what it is."
Cabrera's 427-foot home run to straightaway center field was his 35th of the season, third among AL hitters, and his Major League-leading 120th RBI. His .326 batting average remains third in the AL behind fellow MVP candidates, Josh Hamilton and Joe Mauer.
He was a Triple Crown candidate for much of the summer, and the unquestioned offensive force in the Tigers' lineup. He's feared enough that he's the first AL hitter with 30 intentional walks in a season since John Olerud in 2003. He received his 31st intentional walk on Wednesday.
What that means for his chances remains to be seen. Two members of the Baseball Writers Association from each AL city will vote at the end of the regular season.
"To me, it means a lot," Cabrera said. "But I want to win. If we win games, there's no question. But with all the injuries that we have, Magglio [Ordonez] out, it was tough this year."
The Tigers won't make the postseason with or without Cabrera this year, but envisioning them even contending this summer without him is a stretch.
"Well, that's a question that kind of answers itself," manager Jim Leyland said. "Obviously, he's an MVP. I don't know if he'll get it. You can make a lot of arguments. I'm not going to get into that."
Raburn in line for more playing time
DETROIT -- The Tigers are heading toward an offseason of change, but some player issues remain the same. Ryan Raburn's situation in the Tigers lineup is one of them.
He has been arguably Detroit's best hitter not named Cabrera over the season's second half, and he entered Wednesday's series finale against the Royals batting .335 (53-for-158) with 14 doubles and 34 RBIs over his last 42 games. What his outstanding finish means for his role in 2011, however, is about as unclear as a lot of the Tigers on the current roster heading into the winter.
"I think Ryan Raburn is a very good player," manager Jim Leyland said on Wednesday. "I think he's earned more playing time, but I also think you have to be careful that you don't wear him down. I think he's been a huge contributor to this team for the last couple years, and he's getting better. That's a good thing.
"He's earned more playing time, and he's getting more playing time. And I would assume that he would get more in the future. But I've got to watch him."
Raburn probably will fall short of his 2009 career high for games played. He has 103 games this season, compared with 113 last year. But he set career bests for at-bats and plate appearances earlier this month, not to mention runs, RBIs, base hits and doubles.
Raburn's versatility means his situation could change vastly depending on the moves the Tigers make this winter. He has primarily been a corner outfielder, where the Tigers could look to fit a big bat, but he has also played second and third base.
Still, Leyland's concern about Raburn is similar to concerns he has voiced about infielder Ramon Santiago, who has been a key cog for the Tigers the last four years, but never an everyday player for more than stretches.
Tigers host family of slain officer
DETROIT -- The Tigers spent Wednesday's game against the Royals hosting the family of Corporal Matthew Edwards, the Taylor police officer who lost his life in the line of duty in late July.
At some point after the tragedy, officers in Taylor relayed to the Tigers that Cpl. Edwards shared a love for the Tigers with his nine-year-old son, Luke. Upon receiving that news, the team invited Luke along with his sister, Moriah, and mom Shannon, to watch batting practice on the field Wednesday afternoon. From there, the family was treated to dinner in the Tiger Club before watching the game with family, friends and fellow officers from the Taylor Police Department. The team donated 27 tickets to the family for the game.
The Edwards family met several members of the Tigers during batting practice, including manager Jim Leyland, third baseman Brandon Inge, pitcher Armando Galarraga and coaches.