Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career. Cabrera was placed on the 15-day DL but is expected to miss six weeks with a Grade 3 calf strain.

At age 32, Cabrera is having another remarkable season, batting .350 with 15 home runs and an OPS of 1.034. The Tigers will certainly feel the absence of their megastar in the lineup. Alex Avila will move from catcher to first base to replace Cabrera. Victor Martinez, currently the DH, won’t be an option on the field due to a knee injury he suffered in February. Avila himself is returning to the lineup Saturday after missing nearly two months with his own knee injury.

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Detroit is 40-39 so far this season, and more reliant on its offense to carry the team than in previous seasons. Losing Cabrera for six weeks could sink the team, which is currently in third place in the AL Central, six games behind the Royals.

Of course, any injury to Cabrera will be judged through the lens of the massive contract extension Detroit gave the slugger last year. The extension, which kicks in next season, will pay Cabrera $248 million over eight years. No doubt, Cabrera earned the money on his deal and has every potential to be a force for many years to come. But it’s never reassuring when your 32-year-old slugger is making his first trip to the disabled list. Hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come.

[Detroit Free Press]

Photo via Associated Press