MINNEAPOLIS -- The Tigers offense currently has more balance right now than it arguably has at any point this season. But that doesn't mean that they can go a game without their slugger in the cleanup spot.
Manager Jim Leyland openly pondered whether to give Cabrera a day off on Wednesday, pairing it up with Thursday's scheduled off-day to give him a good long rest before they get back to action on Friday. But Cabrera continues to say he wants to play, and when Leyland checked again with his MVP candidate on Wednesday morning, Cabrera said that he felt fine despite a sore back.
Thus, Cabrera continued his run as one of two Tigers to play in every game this season -- Austin Jackson being the other. He hasn't missed a game since his right ankle sprain in the final week of last season.
As long as Cabrera is playing, he's likely to be at first base. Though Victor Martinez can play first, he's also coming off a groin injury that had him on the 15-day disabled list until last week.
Zumaya undergoes arthroscopic surgery
MINNEAPOLIS -- Neither the Tigers nor noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews have a definitive reason as to why Joel Zumaya's elbow keeps bothering him, but they're hoping that arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday might finally have taken care of the problem.
Dr. Andrews performed the surgery at his clinic in Pensacola, Fla., cleaning up the elbow joint and replacing the screw that had originally been inserted last summer. The previous surgery repaired a fracture at the tip of his elbow, with the screw stabilizing the joint. The new screw is slightly different, in case that was the root of the problem.
Zumaya will rest and rehab for another six weeks, after which Dr. Andrews will re-evaluate him, Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said. That timetable will put him into late June before he can be cleared to resume throwing.
When surgery was originally scheduled two weeks ago, Rand said that Zumaya was unlikely to get back to throwing in time to pitch this season. Now that the surgery is complete, Rand was cautious on the timetable.
"At this point, it's too early to tell," Rand said when asked about Zumaya's chances of pitching this year.
Cabrera tossed for arguing third strike call
MINNEAPOLIS -- After Tigers manager Jim Leyland weighed whether to rest Miguel Cabrera on Wednesday, the All-Star slugger spent the final few innings of Detroit's series finale against the Twins in the clubhouse. He was ejected by home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza for arguing a called third strike in the sixth inning.
Cabrera's first ejection of the season came with the Tigers looking for their fifth straight win. But it also came in a game in which Cabrera seemed flustered from the start.
Cabrera drew a first-inning walk from Twins starter Scott Baker, but one pitch later than he expected. He had dropped his bat and started taking off his elbow pad following a high fastball from Baker on a 3-0 count, only to pick it all back up when Carapazza ruled that it caught the high, outside corner.
Cabrera took a slider around the same area for a called third strike to end the third inning. He doubled in two runs on the first pitch he saw in the fifth inning before stepping back to the plate with two runners on and one out in the sixth.
Twins left-hander Glen Perkins put him in an 0-2 hole before missing on a changeup in the dirt. His next pitch, also offspeed, caught the outside corner at the knees for strike three.
Cabrera protested and was quickly tossed by Carapazza. Both Cabrera and Leyland believed that Cabrera's hand signals to demonstrate the high and low points of Carapazza's strike zone were what triggered the ejection.
"He called [a strike] high, but now he struck me out with a low pitch," Cabrera said. "I tried to figure out where the strike zone was. I think he didn't like it when I said it with my hands, because I didn't say nothing back to him. It was the hands."
Medical staff taking caution with Guillen
MINNEAPOLIS -- Carlos Guillen is taking ground balls again for now, but Tigers medical personnel are proceeding cautiously with his rehab process to see how his surgically repaired left knee reacts.
Head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said Guillen was being re-evaluated on Wednesday by the team medical staff and physical therapist Jeremy Maddox.
"He's doing some moderate baseball activities today," Rand said. "We'll see how he tolerates that so we can kind of get a little better timeline on getting him back to full baseball activity."
In other words, the Tigers are testing out the knee, not necessarily clearing him for more activity. The Tigers still don't have a firm timetable on when he'll return to action. He has been on a touch-and-go progression since mid-March, when soreness in his knee sidelined him from what seemed like a path back to action by the end of Spring Training.
Peralta making significant strides with the bat
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jhonny Peralta got through all of Spring Training without driving in a run. He headed home for Thursday's off-day with 20 RBIs, good enough for fourth on the team.
So much for the slow Spring Training.
"I feel good," Peralta said on Tuesday night after his two-run homer in Detroit's 10-2 win. "When I hit the ball to right field, that's when I'm swinging the best."
His two big hits in the Tigers' two-game series sweep of the Twins both went out to left, though. Hours after he pulled a fastball from Francisco Liriano for a two-run homer Tuesday night, he stepped off the bench to deliver a go-ahead two-run homer Wednesday afternoon.
He saw Liriano's fastball coming on a 2-0 count. He was actually fooled by Twins closer Matt Capps on Wednesday's home run.
"I'm not looking for that pitch," Peralta said. "I'm looking for a sinker and he threw me a slider right there. I don't know how I made good contact, but it's working."
He got it anyway, which is how his stretch has been going. He has three home runs over the Tigers' five-game winning streak, and he's batting .339 (21-for-62) with 12 RBIs in his past 16 games.
"It's hard to explain, because I don't think I'm doing anything different than before," Peralta said. "I'm seeing better pitches right now."
The vast majority of Peralta's hits this season have been pulled to left. But he also centered two hits in the series at Toronto, including a double past a diving effort by Corey Patterson.
Statistically, the greater encouragement might be the consistent contact. He has twice as many hits (36) as strikeouts (18), and has a 3-to-2 ratio of strikeouts to walks. He has just four strikeouts over eight May games, during which he's 12-for-33.
Leyland believes Cabrera could be a manager
MINNEAPOLIS -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland likes to talk about current players that he believes would have a future as a manager if they wanted to try it. On Wednesday, he threw out a name that no one was expecting.
"If I was to pick a player on my team that would be a heckuva manager, it would be Miguel Cabrera," Leyland said. "He's got great instincts. He knows when I screw up. He's so sharp about the game."
The look on Cabrera's face when that was posed to him suggested it isn't in his thought process at the moment. It's too early to think about that, he said.
And to be fair, Leyland said, it's not like he would need the money.
"I don't know if he'd ever want to pay the price to go manage in the Minor Leagues and everything, to learn more about handling pitching," Leyland said. "But as far as instincts for the game and everything, he's as sharp as any player I've ever had, baseball-wise. He's smart. And he's got enough of that fire in his belly that I think he'd be able to handle it.
"He's got as good of a feel for the game, the all-around game, as any player as I've ever had. That's amazing to me. He knows what's going on. He watches. You never have to tell him when to be on the [first-base] line [defensively], when not to be on the line. You don't have to tell him anything. He's ahead of the game. It just comes to him real quick."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.