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Detroit Tigers’ star Miguel Cabrera thinking winning and contention, not rebuilding

By DICK SCANLON

Associated Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — Miguel Cabrera showed up Sunday morning for the start of his 20th spring training camp in the majors, his 15th with the Detroit Tigers.

This one is a little different. For the first time since 2016, the fortified Tigers are thinking about winning, perhaps even contending.

“I think we’ve got an opportunity to do that here, so I’m really excited and ready to go,” said the 38-year-old Cabrera, who needs only 13 hits to reach 3,000 for his career.

The Tigers went 77-85 last season in their first year under manager A.J. Hinch. It was a big leap up from four straight seasons of winning percentages under .400.

The 2021 Tigers had a winning record after May 7, then boosted their roster with three veterans ahead of the 99-day MLB lockout.

“Our manager and organization sent a new message last year that it’s time to win, and they showed that this past offseason, signing two big guys for our team,” Cabrera noted. “Hopefully we can stay healthy and compete.”

In November, Detroit traded for catcher Tucker Barnhart from Cincinnati, then signed left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and shortstop Javier Baez to long-term contracts.

Those acquisitions and the arrivals of prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson gave the Tigers a different look and a different set of expectations as they prepared for today’s first organized workout.

“We need to set the bar high,” Hinch said. “As we come into this camp, we got the feel of winning a little bit, not a lot, and I think we need to continue the same message.”

Outfielder Robbie Grossman noticed.

“There’a a buzz in the clubhouse,” he said. “We’ve brought in some really good players. We’re only going to get better so our expectations are getting higher and higher.”

Greene, a 21-year-old outfielder, was the fifth pick in the 2019 draft. Torkelson, 22, the first overall pick in 2020, is a first baseman. They are among 17 non-roster players in camp for weeks while the major league veterans waited for the lockout to end.