Tigers' Cabrera looking good at first
Manager Leyland confident in slugger's ability in new role
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland believes Miguel Cabrera can be an excellent first baseman. And he's going to personally see to it that he gets the work that gives him a chance.
While the mid-afternoon sun drenched Comerica Park on Tuesday, Cabrera was working with infield coach Rafael Belliard on taking throws at first base. Leyland was watching. A day earlier, when Leyland was busy with lineup changes and transactions, it was third-base coach Gene Lamont watching Cabrera work.
It's not a method of punishment. To Leyland, it's a way to emphasize the point on how important they regard his work at first.
"That is his position," Leyland said. "There is no doubt in the history of baseball that is his position. And he should be outstanding."
While Carlos Guillen has four errors in eight games at third base since moving over from first, Cabrera has seemingly handled his move across the infield well. He looked more comfortable handling throws on Monday compared with games past, Leyland said, and he has generally put himself in position to make plays. He has yet to be charged with an error in 18 games at first, for what that's worth.
While Leyland admits he doesn't know whether Gary Sheffield's move to left will work out, he says he has no such question in his mind about the Guillen-Cabrera switch. Between Cabrera's soft hands, his size as a throwing target and his history as an infielder, Cabrera should naturally be a first baseman. But it's going to take some work to get him accustomed to handling the position, especially from a footwork standpoint.
Cabrera's early workouts with Belliard will continue for most of the week. Leyland plans on watching it as much as he can.
"I know that the Guillen-Cabrera thing is going to work out," Leyland said. "Guillen at third and Cabrera at first is the best thing for this team."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.