Even before the Detroit Tigers entertained the idea of snatching Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera told Tigers coach Rafael Belliard that he wanted to see some action at third base this season after making 596 starts at first base since joining the club in 2007.
An All-Star in his very own way, Cabrera could have complained about having to move from one corner position to another or even asked for a trade as we've seen some upset stars do so in sports.
He didn’t however and Belliard lauded Cabrera's work ethic coming into the 2012 season and during the first two months of the season, praising his dedication and concentration at a position where the ball can get to you in a matter of seconds.
"I think the desire that he has to play third base, everything he did in training; he got in shape to play third base. I was very happy," said Belliard told Fox News Latino.
"Before everything occurred, he told me that he wanted to play 40 games at third base,” Belliard added. “I don't know why. But he's done a good job. I'm very pleased with what he’s done. There are still a few things we have to correct."
I worked hard to play the position and I'm still working harder at it to do the best job I can. I want everything to work out.
- Miguel Cabrera, Third baseman for the Detroit Tigers
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Cabrera had 397 chances and made 23 errors during his last regular season at third back in 2007 season.
After a four year hiatus he's back at the hot corner and has played some solid defense. Let's not be fooled, he's no Brooks Robinson at third, but he has not been a defensive liability for the Tigers. He's made seven errors and has .941 fielding percentage, compared to the league fielding average of .944.
Belliard knows there's still some work to be done as the season goes on, especially in regards to certain plays such as bunts and slow grounders, which require the body control while making throws across the infield.
"Miguel has good hands. He doesn't have the range, say like that of Adrian Beltré or Evan Longoria," said Belliard, who during his playing days with Pittsburgh under Tigers manager Jim Leyland was a sure bet with his glove as a shortstop and second baseman.
"But when he does get to the ball and makes the catch, he has a good arm to make the out. You lose with range but you get a lot back in his hitting and the production."
Cabrera roved between third and left field as a rookie during the then-Florida Marlins run to a World Series title in 2003. The following season he eventually settled down as an outfielder, starting 100 of 158 in right while the rest came in left. The Marlins moved him to left field in 2005, starting 128 of 134 games in left with another 29 coming as their starting third baseman before permanently taking over the hot corner the next two seasons.
So playing third baseman is nothing new for the Venezuelan, one of the baseball's most feared hitters.
"I worked hard to play the position and I'm still working harder at it to do the best job I can. I want everything to work out," Cabrera told Fox News Latino.
"There hasn't been that much of a difference,” he added. “This a position that I know well. It's a position where I have adapted well. God willing everything will come out good."
Many wondered how the transition would play itself out at third once Fielder was signed, sealed and delivered to Motown.
Cabrera hasn't been in the best physical shape in the years past despite putting up some of the best numbers we've seen in years at the plate. But he looks leaner know after changing his diet and working out during the offseason.
"If you think any player is going to the play the whole year and not make an error, you're crazy," Leyland said. "I think sometimes people want to magnify a little bit when you make a positional change. They want to magnify it a little bit but to me he's done very, very well.
"He loves it. He works at it and Rafi's worked at it. He's played there before. He has a pretty good air of confidence about him playing it. He absolutely loves it. I think he’s doing a fine job."
His teammates seem to agree as well.
"He's done an excellent job. I think that all the hard work he did in spring is working out,” said Fielder. “I mean he's a great athlete ... which makes it kind of awesome seeing how is a big dude. It's like he seems like a linebacker I guess. He can do it all."