As the Detroit Tigers scratch and claw for a playoff spot and AL Central title, Miguel Cabrera's face has become the physical manifestation of that battle.
I don't know if anyone else noticed the cuts and bruises on Cabrera's face during last night's game. I certainly didn't. And not until Jim Leyland was asked about this during his post-game presser did I realize this could even be a story.
But apparently, it was quite noticeable among teammates and the press in the Tigers' clubhouse before Saturday night's game.
The Detroit News' Lynn Henning attempted to determine the cause of Cabrera's facial blemishes, but he got nowhere with his inquiries. (No one seems to tell him much anyway, which could be the source of his season-long grumpiness toward the team.) That led Henning to speculate that something relatively serious could have taken place, though he acknowledged he was reaching for answers in the absence of an actual explanation.
FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi, however, encountered a bit more success. Maybe because he was the first to ask what had happened. Or maybe Tigers players are more willing to talk to him. Regardless of the reason, this is how Morosi described the situation:
There were red scratches along the left side of his face. There was a scrape on his lip. These marks were not present when he spoke with the media following Friday's game. But they were there less than 24 hours later, obvious enough that several teammates came over to his locker before the game to take a look.
But Morosi was able to approach BigMig personally, and ask what had happened. He asked twice, actually, as Cabrera wondered why such a question would be asked. So what was the deal?
And this, folks, is what he said next: "It was my dog."
He emphasized that he was talking about a fairly big dog.
From there, according to Morosi, Magglio Ordonez stepped in to end the interview and shoo the nosey reporters away.
Cabrera didn't speak to the media after the game, but that may have had more to do with his 0-for-4 night (and his 1-for-12 performance over the past three games, as Kurt points out at Mack Avenue Tigers).
But again, in the absence of an explanation, reporters and bloggers can't help but try to figure out what's going on. Detroit4lyfe wonders if there may have been a scrum between teammates. Henning checked in with local police to see if any reports had been filed.
Maybe Cabrera's dog really did rough him up. (And hey, maybe that dog is as frustrated as the rest of us.) And maybe teammates such as Adam Everett and Brandon Inge, both of whom spoke to Morosi on the record, really don't know what happened. But if it's that simple and innocent, why all the secrecy?
Tigers Tracks has more on Cabrera's recent struggles with the bat.