DETROIT — What is said about a player can affect their psyche for a game. At this stage of the season for a team in the playoff hunt, the less heard, the better — especially from the fans. And Miguel Cabrera doesn’t want to see the negativity. From anyone.
"I've been here a lot of years,” Cabrera said after the Tigers’ 9-6 win over the Twins. “I've been through it. To me, it doesn’t matter what people say. But we got a lot of new guys here (and we tell them) 'Don't worry about that stuff.' They think about it and read stuff. But we need to stay positive and go out there and play."
Cabrera doesn’t make it a nightly habit of speaking after a game, and rarely will he prior to one either. But Wednesday night was different, taking more than a moment to impress upon the fact that what is said to them on social media, and about them across the airwaves, has an affect on the team.
And as he said, with so many newer teammates — either through acquisition or being brought up from the minors — that can sit and steep with players in the wrong way. Having a veteran presence in the clubhouse has gone a long way in cutting off the negativity when teammates come to people like Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, or Justin Verlander with concerns, but they can’t catch everything.
You can’t wrap players in bubbles, and it comes with the territory, Cabrera understands that. What bothers him is that the fans he plays for often lash out at various players in ways that create a negative atmosphere. In his eyes, what is said about and to them over social media and even at the games, can even change how a player preps for a game — particularly if they’ve been struggling.
Athletes are often expected to perform and not let allow outside perspectives influence their preparation or daily lives. But he believes that to constantly place those expectations on them is unrealistic.
“We’re human,” he said.
Most Tigers players avoid their Twitter or Facebook accounts on their phones — a “dangerous” device, he called it — prior to a game. And right now with September in full swing, there isn’t an abundance of down time. There are just 16 games remaining until the end of the season and guys are playing hurt.
No one’s at 100 percent at this point of the year, but what the team can do is focus on the positive — and attempt to ignore the boos from the crowds during games, which surfaced several times during the Tigers-Twins series. Part of that is searching for the good from fans, and attempting to bypass the bad.
That also means ignoring how the Indians are doing until Detroit visits Cleveland. The Tigers have one game against the Twins before a three-game set against the Indians followed by the last off day of the season on Monday.
Regardless of how fans feel about the team, Cabrera’s perspective on rooting for something instead of proclaiming doom remains the same. Fan negativity does no good in the long run and only serves to create a downtrodden nature on the team.
Seasoned veterans may have more armor for the arrows, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune. And it may not affect him, but it doesn’t sit well with how it affects the team, either.
“We believe. We trust what we got in the bullpen, we trust what we have in the starting pitching, and we trust the nine guys that go out to play every night,” he said. “There’s no time to think ‘oh somebody’s gonna blow something’ or do bad, because we gotta stay positive. I don’t care what people say and I’ve said that a million times.”