While Tigers Twitter has been abuzz with plenty of trade rumors and free agent fodder over the past few days, the best news they will receive this week came far away from any GM meetings. On Monday, Miguel Cabrera tweeted a picture of himself performing a hip exercise with the caption "Mejorando cada dia!!! Gracias Dios" (Better everyday!!! Thank God"). The picture featured Cabrera wearing tennis shoes, indicating that he is no longer confined to a walking boot.
✌️✊ Mejorando cada dia!!! Gracias Dios pic.twitter.com/PDX3BqYGWF— Miguel Cabrera (@MiguelCabrera) December 8, 2014
Despite the club's caution when discussing Cabrera's rehab timetable, this is great news. Cabrera's picture surfaced just over six weeks following surgery on his right ankle. The procedure involved the removal of several bone chips and a repair of a stress fracture in Cabrera's navicular bone. Tigers officials said that Cabrera will be reevaluated in mid-January.
This update flies in the face of everything I said back in October. Assuming Cabrera is allowed to put his full weight through his right leg -- he has the leg in the air in the picture -- then his timetable jumps forward by a considerable amount of time. Being able to walk (and fit his foot into) in a regular shoe is an excellent sign six weeks after surgery. His gait may still be limited due to foot pain and weakness, but even getting out of the boot after what seemed like a fairly involved surgery is a victory.
Dave Dombrowski shed some light on Cabrera's surgery in an interview on MLB Network on Tuesday. When asked about Cabrera's surgery, Dombrowski said that the surgeon removed eight bone chips from Cabrera's right ankle. Dombrowski also said that the surgeon was shocked by the fact that Cabrera was able to play through the pain that such an injury would have caused.
Dombrowski says that Miguel Cabrera had eight bone chips removed from his ankle during surgery. That’s a lot.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) December 10, 2014
On Wednesday evening, Jason Beck reported that the Tigers would have a contingency plan in place if Cabrera's rehab schedule were to progress slower than expected. Based on the information we have -- which basically consists of the above photo and Cabrera's x-ray -- it seems that this may not be necessary. If Cabrera is already able to put weight through his right ankle, he should be able to perform baseball activities by the time Spring Training rolls around.
That said, setbacks happen. Cabrera has plenty of hurdles to clear before he even picks up a bat or glove, and these things take time. Even with his entire offseason devoted to his rehab, Cabrera may not be fully ready to take the field at the start of Spring Training. Between putting his weight through his right ankle when hitting, planting off of his right foot while rounding the bases, and moving side to side while in the field, there are a lot of different movements that could give Cabrera trouble.
Until then, be happy. Mighty Miggy is back on his feet.