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Tigers' aching Miguel Cabrera mulls future: 'Right now, we don't know'

The Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, right, reacts after popping out in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays last month. Associated Press

DETROIT — For the first time, aging Detroit Tigers legend Miguel Cabrera just doesn't know.

Ahead of Thursday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Cabrera, 39, said that he's not sure if the chronic pain in his knee will force him to retire after this season.

Previously, Cabrera had said that he hopes to finish out the entirety of his eight-year, $248 million contract.

"We gotta talk to my agent. We gotta talk to the GM, we gotta talk to everybody, see what's gonna be the plan for next year," Cabrera said. "So right now, we don't know. We focus about today. We're gonna go day-by-day and see what happens.

"But it's nothing like — I don't think about next year right now. I think about trying to finish healthy this year."

Cabrera, a former Triple Crown winner and two-time MVP in his 15th season with Detroit, was hitting .293/.338/.395 with six doubles and three home runs through the first two months of the season. He's made history each of the last two years, hitting his 500th career home run last season and collecting his 3,000th hit this past April.

Tigers manager AJ Hinch said Wednesday the club had become concerned about the way that Cabrera had been looking of late — entering Thursday, Cabrera is hitting .132 over his last 20 games — and said he would start to consider playing him less frequently.

Hinch added Thursday that heading into the weekend series against Tampa, the plan is to play him every other day.

And Cabrera, well, he'll do whatever's best for the team, he said.

"I don't wanna hurt the team. I don't want to put them in a bad position. ... So, I'm OK with (not playing as much). ... I love this city. I don't want to hurt this city," Cabrera said.

"You gotta understand your body, you know what I mean? I understand my body, I understand my position now in this thing, so I'm OK, but I'm still gonna keep working, and every time they give me a chance to play, I'm gonna go out there and to my job. That's the bottom line and that's what matters, every time they give you a chance to play — and I know it's another opportunity for young guys to get more at-bats and see what we got for next year."

In trying to lighten Cabrera's workload, Hinch said that there's not much rhyme or reason with playing him every other day besides laying "out a plan for him that he knows, so he can kind of handle his physical preparedness the way he needs to."

Hinch also said that right now, it doesn't look like the injured list is not the proper solution.

"If this continues into later in the month, I think we're gonna have to consider it. But he can give us what he's got, and even when you watch his at-bats, he's still in the at-bats," Hinch said. "I also think this is the end of a really tough stretch for him, and so mentally, it can even get to you a little bit, where he's not feeling it.

"So we'll see, but again, we're just trying to be open and transparent with each other."