DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers lost much more than a game on Tuesday night.
Miguel Cabrera ruptured his left biceps tendon in the third inning of a 6-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins and will have season-ending surgery later this week.
"This is obviously a very sad day for Miggy and for the entire ballclub," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It is obviously a huge blow to the team, both on and off the field, but we will have to find a way to overcome it."
Gardenhire said Cabrera’s status for the 2019 season won’t be known until after the operation. He still has $154 million left on a contract that runs through 2023.
Cabrera swung awkwardly at Jake Odorizzi‘s slider and immediately walked to the dugout with his arm limply at his side. When he was joined by team trainers, the slugger gestured to his biceps and continued walking into the Detroit clubhouse.
"At that end of that inning, I ran up to check on him in the clubhouse and he said he felt a pop on that swing," teammate Nicholas Castellanos said. "I knew that wasn’t good, but we didn’t find out how bad it was until after the game."
Many of the Tigers had already left the clubhouse before it was opened to the media, more than 20 minutes after the final pitch.
"We’re all kind of stunned," said JaCoby Jones. "You don’t think anything like that is going to happen to Miguel Cabrera, especially on a swing."
Cabrera has played through numerous lower-body injuries in the past few years, even while winning a Triple Crown, two MVP awards and four batting titles, but it started to catch up with him in 2017. He played 130 games, but hit a career-worst .249 with 16 homers.
This year, he missed three games with spasms in the same biceps tendon that ruptured on Tuesday, then was out for 26 games with a hamstring strain and back tightness. He returned on June 1, hitting .244 with no home runs and one RBI in 12 games before the latest injury.
Gardenhire didn’t think the earlier injuries played a role in what happened on Tuesday.
"He took BP before the game and he said he felt great," Gardenhire said.
John Hicks, normally Detroit’s backup catcher, played first base during Cabrera’s previous absence and will return there for the time being. Gardenhire said the team will discuss long-term plans in the upcoming days.
"We’re all going to have to step up, starting tomorrow, to try to fill Miggy’s shoes," Castellanos said. "That means everyone, beginning with me."