LAKELAND, Fla. — Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera has a broken bone below his right eye after being struck by a bad-hop grounder, sidelining the star slugger for at least a week with opening day on deck.
The AL Central champions start April 5 at home against Boston, giving Cabrera less than 2 1/2 weeks to recover.
"Hopefully, I'll be ready to open the season," Cabrera said Tuesday.
Cabrera had little chance Monday on a hard shot by Philadelphia's Hunter Pence that caused a bloody gash and required eight stitches. The Tigers shifted their biggest hitter across the diamond this year to make room for new first baseman Prince Fielder, acutely aware Cabrera earns his money with a bat, not a glove.
Cabrera was wearing sunglasses when he and Tigers President Dave Dombrowski addressed the injury in the right-field corner at Joker Marchant Stadium before Detroit hosted Atlanta.
Dombrowski called Cabrera's vision "perfect."
"We'll know a lot more in a week," Dombrowski said. "If he wants to go relax he can go home, and he's always welcome here."
Said Cabrera: "I am confident I can play on opening day."
Cabrera last played third base in 2008, when he started 14 games for Detroit. He was the Marlins' full-time third baseman in 2006 and then again in 2007, when made 23 errors and had a .941 fielding percentage.
Cabrera has been doing all right at the spot this spring. He's doing even better at the plate – after hitting a major league-leading .344 last year with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs, he was batting .433 with three doubles, a home run and four RBIs in 30 exhibition at-bats.
Lately, Cabrera has been experimenting with wearing sunglasses in the field, a suggestion from fellow Tigers infielder Ramon Santiago.
Pence's grounder at the Phillies' field shattered Cabrera's shades.
"There's no question that his sunglasses helped him a great deal yesterday," Dombrowski said. "Who knows what would have happened if he didn't have the sunglasses on? You could see the imprint of the ball on his sunglasses – the seams."
Cabrera considered himself lucky.
"It's part of the game," he said. "I can see out of my eye."
Danny Worth started at third base for the Tigers on Tuesday. They also have Brandon Inge, who's spent quite a bit of time at the spot.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland declined to talk about Cabrera's status at third base before Tuesday's game, saying he'd already said enough about the subject. Leyland knows that many people consider Cabrera a shaky fielder, at best, on a team expected to score lots of runs.
"Watch him play, write what you want, give your opinion what you think," Leyland said a day earlier. "He's doing great at third base. Is he going to make plays like Brooks Robinson? For the 100th time this spring? No. Is he going to catch the routine plays, is he going to throw it accurately with one of the better arms in the league? Yes. Is he going to hit a lot of home runs and knock in a lot of runs? Yes. He's our third baseman."
AP freelance writer Jeff Berlinicke contributed to this report.