Saturday, February 19, 2011

What's Next for Cabrera?

It's spring training and I'd rather talk about baseball, but the biggest issue on Tigers fans minds right now is Miguel Cabrera's alcohol problem.  He is currently back home in Boca Raton, Florida after being charged with a DUI Thursday morning.  By all accounts, he is in excellent physical shape and would like to be in Lakeland working out with teammates right now, but he'll have to wait.

Early next week, the Tigers first baseman will meet with doctors selected by MLB and the player's union to decide the next course of action. General Manager Dave Dombrowski reports that Cabrera understands that he has an alcohol problem and is being very cooperative:
"He's cooperative and realizes he's had an alcohol problem in the past that he's addressed and has worked through, and he fell off of that program," Dombrowski said. "He acknowledges that and he will do what's necessary to get back on track. But I will also say he's extremely down. He wants to be here. He feels terrible but he understands the importance of making sure that this is properly evaluated." 
The Tigers slugger already underwent outpatient treatment for a few months at the end of 2009 following his late season drinking incident that year. It may have worked for a while, but this relapse could prompt further action.

There are a few different courses of treatment Cabrera could take. He could start off in a detoxification program for a week or two if necessary.  It does sound as if he is functioning well enough where that would not be necessary though.  Another possibility is that he would go in into inpatient treatment which could last a month or more.  It also might be a matter of more outpatient treatment or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It's possible they will decide that he doesn't need treatment at this time, but that seems unlikely.

How long will he be out if he needs treatment?  If it's something like AA then he probably wouldn't miss time.  If he needs intensive inpatient treatment, then he won't be able play for a while.

There is some recent precedent of alcohol treatment for a major league player.  Last year, Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario was late for spring training after he was charged with a DUI in his native Venezuela and could not secure a work Visa.  That is not quite the same as Cabrera's situation.  However, later in the year, Belisario was placed on the restricted list when he entered substance abuse treatment.  As a result, he missed a month of action between early July and early August.   

If Cabrera follows the same course as Belisario, he could go into treatment next week and be out shortly before spring training ends.  In that case, he would miss very little of the regular season if any.  He would probably require follow up treatment on an outpatient basis after that, but it probably wouldn't require him to miss much time.

I still don't expect this problem to affect the baseball season much.  I expect him to play and to hit like he always does.  I also trust that Jim Leyland won't let the situation become too much of a distraction to the team.

Speaking as a baseball fan, I don't think we'll be affected too much by this situation other than tiring of hearing about it.  Speaking as as a compassionate human being, I hope he gets help for his sake and his family's sake.

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