LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera arrived at Joker Marchant Stadium Thursday afternoon, walked into the same offices where he signed the eight-year contract that changed his life three years ago and talked with Tigers officials about the changes that he hopes will impact the rest of his life.
Then, with his on-field home at first base in the background, he stood in front of reporters and addressed the off-field issues with alcohol that have led him into a rehabilitation program.
"I want to apologize to everybody -- to my teammates, to my fans, to my family, to the owner, to the Detroit Tigers," Cabrera said.
"I just want to say that I'm very sorry for what I've done," he continued through translator Al Avila. "I want to apologize to all my teammates, my owner, my family, my friends and everybody that I've let down. I've worked very hard for a period of time in overcoming this. I just want to get back and play and have everybody forgive me. I ask for forgiveness."
In a news conference that lasted just about a half hour, Cabrera made his first public remarks since his arrest eight days ago in Ft. Pierce, Fla., on charges of driving under the influence and resisting an officer without violence. He confirmed he was on his way here when the incident occurred, calling it "one bad decision on my part."
"I'm very sorry," he said, "and I want to apologize to the policeman for that night. I acted in a bad way, and I hope that they forgive me. I'm very sorry for what I did. I also thank them for the way they handled everything, because at the end, it came out to be the best way.
"I believe in the American justice system. It will take its course, and I believe in the end, things will be cleared up and I will be good. I also want to regain my reputation. I will work hard to regain that respect. ... I just want to get back to baseball and work hard and continue my career."
Beforehand, as Cabrera met with Tigers officials, Major League Baseball executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred released a statement announcing "a multifaceted, professionally administered program" to address the issues.
"Consistent with our policy, over the past several days, Miguel Cabrera has been evaluated by representatives of the Treatment Board jointly operated by the Commissioner's Office and the MLBPA," the statement reads. "Our Treatment Board is staffed by outstanding doctors who are experts in dealing with addiction issues. Mr. Cabrera has voluntarily cooperated and has been completely forthcoming in this process.
The program, the statement continues, "will include supervision as necessary to ensure that he adheres to his program. Mr. Cabrera understands the importance of this program and is fully committed to the program. He also understands that any future alcohol-related incidents could involve more serious consequences."
That supervision will include someone who will be around Cabrera on a regular basis for counseling, support and help through the process, similar to the program Rangers All-Star Josh Hamilton has had.
"That is one thing that we're looking at," Avila said. "We are actually right now who could be that person. That's something in the works."
When asked about the selection, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said, "It's somebody we need to be comfortable with as well as Miguel."
Cabrera confirmed he had been attending outpatient meetings with a counselor this offseason, continuing the program prescribed to him after a 2009 alcohol-related incident in which police were called to his suburban Detroit home and took Cabrera into custody to separate him from his wife. His last meeting, he said, took place four weeks ago near his South Florida home, before he traveled to his native Venezuela for that country's winter league championship.
Neither Cabrera nor Tigers officials went into detail about the treatment recommended through the Commissioner's Office and the MLBPA, but Cabrera made his commitment to follow through with the program.
"I will continue with my treatment," he said. "I will continue to see the doctors and follow what their recommendations are. Unfortunately, I made a mistake this one time, but I will continue my treatment. I will follow everything the doctors tell me to do."
Dombrowski said it was important to have MLB and the MLBPA involved in selecting a doctor and making the assessment.
"The program itself, we had no involvement in putting it together," Dombrowski said. "We were asked in some cases would we support what was being done, and we would, but we'll be involved in helping it work on a day-in, day-out basis.
"This has been a very thorough process with some outstanding doctors, and I know he's totally committed to that. We're going to help him however we can. And I've said all along, anytime you're involved with situations where alcohol is involved, it's a daily battle for an individual. But I know he's committed to doing what's necessary. I'm not at liberty to discuss the program, but I've seen the program, and it's a very thorough program. And I think it'll help him a great deal."
His treatment will take place while he is around the team. Cabrera has been cleared to rejoin the club in full capacity beginning with workouts here Friday morning. Dombrowski said manager Jim Leyland will make the decision when Cabrera can play in games this spring.
"I'm glad to be here," Cabrera said, adding he wanted to be with his teammates to prove that he's here for them, and citing "tremendous support" from teammates.
Tigers position players have been in workouts for six days without their most productive offensive player and American League Most Valuable Player runner-up. While Cabrera's arrest created a distraction in camp, the team seemed to move on well without him once full-squad workouts began last weekend. Prospect Ryan Strieby, who had been converted into an outfielder last year with his natural position blocked at the big league level by Cabrera, has been working out at first in Cabrera's place, along with Don Kelly.
"The toughest thing is," Avila translated, "that he feels he let everybody down -- the organization, his teammates, his manager. He let himself down, his family in particular. That's the toughest thing."
Cabrera is scheduled to be arraigned in mid-March. He declined to discuss certain details of the incident, citing the pending legal case. He said that he was driving to Lakeland that night, and that he was driving the 2005 Range Rover there with plans to have it shipped to Venezuela for family.
Asked what prompted his decision that night, after getting through last season and the offseason, Cabrera cited personal issues.
"He just hopes," Avila translated, "that this will help him become a better person and continue to grow."