A rare moment occurred Thursday morning.
The focus is on him, and he accepted the attention gracefully. A herd of reporters gathered around his locker, and Cabrera just kept talking — about his emotions approaching the milestone, about his desire to win, about Venezuela, about the Tigers’ future, about his family, about the late Al Kaline and much more.
“I think I might cry,” Cabrera said.
The 39-year-old, in his 20th season, went 3-for-4 in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Yankees at Comerica Park, putting him on the doorstep of becoming the seventh player in history with at least 500 home runs and 3,000 hits.
His father, also named Miguel, called him from Venezuela on Wednesday night, explaining he had to close his eyes during Cabrera’s final at-bat. He struck out swinging in the eighth inning, leaving him at 2,999 hits.
“When my kids play, I never sit still,” Cabrera said. “When you play, you control the game. You strike out or whatever, but you control the game. When you’re in the stands, you get more nervous.”
For Thursday’s game against the Yankees, Cabrera’s mother, Gregoria, and the rest of his family — wife Rosangel, daughter Isabella and son Christopher — will be in attendance. He joked with his son that he would reach safely on a bunt for his 3,000 hit.
“He said, ‘Dad, come on,'” Cabrera said.
Cabrera has one bunt single in his career.
It happened in 2006.
“I will bunt today, first pitch,” Cabrera said, laughing. “(Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery) will throw me a slider inside. You already know — bunt. Man on the third, base hit RBI, baby. First inning.”
Christopher, meanwhile, wants his father to dance if he hits a home run.
“He showed me a dance,” Cabrera said. “I said, ‘I can’t dance.’ He told me I have to do something. … You know who is his favorite player? (Ronald) Acuna. I said, ‘Now I know where you get that, because I didn’t teach you that.’ Acuna and (Ozzie) Albies.”
As for Acuna, he is one of the players Cabrera studies these days. Acuna, 24, won the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year, is a two-time All-Star and has spent all four MLB seasons with the Atlanta Braves.
Cabrera also watches Shohei Ohtani, the two-way superstar for the Los Angeles Angels. Ohtani, 27, earned the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year and the 2021 AL MVP. He hit 43 home runs last season, to go with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts as a pitcher.
Cabrera will be one of two Tigers — along with Kaline (3,007 hits) and Ty Cobb (4,189 hits) — to accomplish 3,000. The most recent player to join the 3,000 hit club was Albert Pujols in May 2018.
Before Pujols, it was Adrian Beltre in July 2017.
“That number is really hard to get,” Cabrera said. “Don’t get me wrong, I always dreamed about this moment. I was always thinking about, in your career where you’re going to be. I’m in a good position right now. I want to enjoy the moment, but at the same time, I want to think the same thing I thought when I first came up — play to win with my teammates. It’s not fair to say, ‘Oh, I get 3,000 because of me.’ No, I get 3,000 because of my teammates, my coaches, my manager, everyone.”
Cabrera will be the first player from Venezuela to achieve the milestone.
With that comes a message from the country’s greatest baseball player.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Cabrera, who grew up idolizing Venezuelan Dave Concepcion, a 19-year MLB vet. “If there’s any kid in Venezuela that sees that, I want you to know that if I can make it, you can make it.”