BOSTON — Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera has a strict don’t-ask policy about his untold ailments.
"It’s no time to complain," Cabrera told reporters before Game 6 of the AL championship series Saturday night at Fenway Park. "It’s no time to feel sorry about how you’re feeling."
Manager Jim Leyland, though, will confirm what’s achingly obvious to everyone: The best hitter in baseball has hardly been himself this fall.
And that, Leyland said, is a shame — the fallout extending well beyond Detroit.
"It has handicapped him in some ways, obviously," he said of Cabrera, who continues to labor through hip, groin, and abdominal issues. "It kind of breaks your heart, to be honest with you, to see him out there the way he has to be out there and the way he is right now. He's tough as nails. I have so much respect for him. Everybody is conscientious these days about people earning their money. You talk about somebody who is earning their money. This guy feels like he owes it to the Detroit Tigers and our fans to be out there.
"He's doing the best he can. It breaks your heart as a manager. It's really a shame for the whole baseball world because they're not getting a chance to see him at his best. This time of year, people are turning on the TV, they love to see these guys. Obviously, I think he's the best player in the league. To not be able to see him at his best because of a physical ailment, it hurts a little bit, but that's just the way it is."
Cabrera, a favorite to capture his second straight AL MVP, will only recover with an offseason of rest. For now, he can barely move and has struggled to drive the ball. He is batting .263 with two extra-base hits — both homers — in 38 postseason at-bats.
"You got to go out there and play with your heart," Cabrera said. "That’s it."
SEEING GREEN: Fenway was a scalper’s paradise Saturday.
As Boston tried to clinch its first AL pennant since 2007, Game 6 tickets sold on the secondary market for more than four times what resellers got for the ALCS games in Detroit.
According to the resale site TiqIq.com, tickets for for the three games at Comerica Park went for an average of $147.58 while the three at Fenway sold for $621.54.
Prices in the Motor City seemed to suffer from a been-there-done-that malaise. Tickets for the Tigers’ ALCS home games averaged $265.26 in 2011 and $219.88 last year.
AVILA BACK: Tigers catcher Alex Avila was back in the lineup.
Avila was pulled from Game 5 with a sprained left knee suffered in a jolting home-plate collision with Boston’s David Ross.
"He's ready to go," Leyland said. "He feels pretty good."
As for the crash that caused the injury, Leyland became the latest to support a ban on plate collisions. He is one of 14 members on commissioner Bud Selig’s advisory committee.
"I think there should be changes made at some point," Leyland said. "It has nothing to do with [Thursday] because the rules are what they are still. David really did the only thing he could do. I have absolutely no problem with that. It's a tough play for a catcher. If you've got time, you hope you can sometimes step off to the side and tag [the runner] as he's going by."
DEAL WITH DEVIL: A Tigers win in June is their loss in October.
It was Detroit’s 4-3 comeback victory over the Red Sox on June 20 that led Boston to hand its closer’s job to Koji Uehara. Since then, the soft-tossing 38-year-old right-hander signed as an afterthought to a roster filled with stoppers — Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan, and Junichi Tazawa — has only been the most dominant pitcher in baseball.
"He ended up being our fourth choice as closer this year," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "And it took place right in Detroit."
That night at Comerica, Jhonny Peralta’s two-run game-winning homer marked Andrew Bailey’s third blown save in two weeks and Boston’s 10th of the season.
Uehara was in, and suddenly a weakness was an indomitable strength.
As the closer, the former Rangers reliever has a 0.52 ERA, 24 saves in 26 chances, and a 0.565 WHIP that is the lowest ever for a pitcher with at least 20 innings. He has thrown 74 1/3.
Uehara has two saves and a win in five scoreless innings in the ALCS.
"They caught lightning in a bottle," Leyland said. "He’s been absolutely terrific. Obviously his significance right now is probably as important as anybody they’ve got on their team."