Orioles

Miguel Cabrera gets in his licks, and his laughs

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Miguel Cabrera gets in his licks, and his laughs

DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Tigers were in the middle of a workout for the World Series when comedian George Lopez showed up and began milling around near home plate. Almost instantly, Miguel Cabrera was beside him, laughing it up and looking as excited as he'd been all afternoon.

``He likes to have fun,'' teammate Quintin Berry said. ``He enjoys himself. He loves being here, and he likes the loose environment. I understand him having a lot of fun with George and stuff because that's the same kind of person he is.''

Baseball's first Triple Crown winner in 45 years seems to enjoy hitting and joking around in equal proportion. Fans are plenty familiar with Cabrera's talent - his consistently high average and awe-inspiring power - but the rest of the Tigers appreciate him for more than that.

Cabrera may be shy in front of a camera or microphone, but there's a goofy side to the third baseman that helps keep his team upbeat.

Now in the prime of his career at 29, Cabrera's approach remains meticulous, but he's careful not to take himself or his job too seriously.

``Besides the business, it's a game. I think baseball is a very fine game and you have to enjoy it,'' Cabrera said recently. ``You have to go out there and have fun. Don't get me wrong, you have to be serious at the same time, but I think when you have a team and try to have fun and get loose before the game and between innings, I think it helps you play good. That's the way I've played since I was a kid.''

Cabrera and the Tigers open the World Series on Wednesday. It will be his first trip to the Fall Classic since he was a 20-year-old rookie in 2003 and his Florida Marlins beat the New York Yankees.

Cabrera played all over the field in that postseason - third base, left field, right field, even three innings at shortstop. After being traded to the Tigers before the 2008 season, he eventually settled in at first base. Detroit acquired the Venezuelan for his bat, after all, not his glove.

``He was a good hitter before we ever got him,'' manager Jim Leyland said. ``I mean, nobody here taught Miguel Cabrera anything about hitting.''

Still, even the Tigers had to be amazed by what Cabrera did this season. His .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBIs made him the first Triple Crown winner since 1967.

``I told him that a Latino winning the Triple Crown is as impressive as having a black president,'' Lopez said during his visit with the team Saturday.

During the final days of the Triple Crown chase, Cabrera did his best to deflect the pressure and the attention.

``I kind of want to stay away from baseball when I go home,'' he said. ``I want to see movies ... try to play with my kids, try and forget baseball for a little bit.''

As outgoing as he can be, Cabrera doesn't always look comfortable when talking to reporters, especially when asked to talk about himself. It wasn't long ago he seemed on the verge of wasting his prodigious talent, when he was arrested at the start of spring training in 2011 - he later pleaded no contest to drunken driving.

General manager Dave Dombrowski said Cabrera has worked hard to overcome his off-field problems.

``I think he's grown in abundance,'' Dombrowski said. ``Just some of the things that when you're a youngster, you need to learn, and the only way you learn is through experience, and he's done that. So we see him in a much more comfortable place - his growth as a family man, his growth on the field as a leader.''

Perhaps the best example of Cabrera's team-first mentality came when he moved to third base this year to accommodate newly signed first baseman Prince Fielder. Cabrera's range isn't particularly good, and the adjustment got off to a rocky start when he was hit around the eye with a bad-hop grounder during spring training.

It would have been easy for a player of Cabrera's stature to call off the experiment after that scary injury, but he never did.

``He's a very tough individual,'' Dombrowski said. ``He continued his hard work. I can't say he wasn't concerned, but we were more concerned than him at the time.''

Some of Cabrera's quirkier habits may be on display for a national audience once the World Series starts. Watch him after a checked swing. He might signal toward first base himself, as if expecting the umpire to cut him some slack if he appeals the play before the catcher.

Cabrera is focused whenever he steps on the field. The Tigers were scrimmaging Sunday at Comerica Park, and when Cabrera stepped up, he used the plate to help mark off exactly where he wanted to stand, since there was no marked batter's box.

Cabrera is all about details. But make no mistake, he has fun along the way.

``He tries not to worry about anything,'' Berry said. ``He gets bothered if everybody starts worrying too much. He just wants everybody to relax and believe in yourselves. That's pretty much what I take from him.''

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

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Machado homers as Orioles beat Rangers 6-5

For well over six seasons, Manny Machado's value to the Baltimore Orioles has been solely his ability to hit and play the field.

All that has changed, now that the Orioles are looking to receive a huge return for their All-Star shortstop in a blockbuster trade.

Machado homered before being removed on a wet day, Adam Jones hit a three-run double and Baltimore rallied past the Texas Rangers 6-5 Sunday.

Machado was taken out of the game in the fifth inning by manager Buck Showalter after a 26-minute rain delay. The move was designed to get their star player off a sloppy field, because the last-place Orioles are entertaining offers for Machado before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"Obviously there's a different situation going on with Manny. You all know that," Showalter said. "That had a lot to do with it."

Plain and simple, the Orioles can't afford to have Machado get hurt. Now, more than ever.

"A month ago he wouldn't have come out of the game," Showalter acknowledged. "We know that. You know it."

After being replaced by Jace Peterson, Machado sat in the dugout, wearing a sweatshirt and joking with his teammates.

"I don't know why (Showalter) did it or not," Machado said. "He just told me, `I'm going to take you out. You had a good first half and go represent us well in the All-Star Game.'"

Machado is Baltimore's lone representative for Tuesday's showcase. He has spent his entire career in Baltimore, but his contract expires after this season and the Orioles don't appear interested in locking him up with a long-term deal.

"I'm going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It's just always a blessing," Machado said. "I thank God. I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization. I mean it's just been very incredible."

In a matchup between two teams staggering into the break, Texas got a first-inning grand slam from rookie Ronald Guzman but quickly gave the lead away in losing for the seventh time in nine games.

Machado ignited the comeback with his 24th homer, and Jones' bases-clearing double in the third off Mike Minor (6-6) put Baltimore ahead to stay.

"I'll be fine," said Minor, who yielded five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. "I'll reflect a little bit and then get back to it."

The game ended when Texas pinch-runner Carlos Tocci was thrown out at the plate on a double by Elvis Andrus. Running from first base, Tocci was tagged out by catcher Caleb Joseph following throws by right fielder Mark Trumbo and second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

"Textbook," Showalter said.

Texas manager Jeff Bannister called it a "situation where they had to throw it on line to throw Tocci out. They executed well."

Tanner Scott (1-1), the first of four Baltimore relievers, earned his first big league win.

Zach Britton, another Oriole supposedly on the trading block, worked the ninth for his fourth save, the second in two days.

Texas broke on top when Miguel Castro issued three straight walks and Guzman sent a one-out drive over the right-field wall for his first career grand slam.

It was 4-1 in the third when Joseph hit an RBI double and Jones doubled down the left-field line following a walk to Machado.

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the seventh to get the Rangers to 6-5.

STREAKY

Choo opened the game with a walk, extending to 51 his single-season club record streak of games reaching base via a hit, walk or HBP. ... Texas' Delino DeShields went 0 for 3, stretching his hitless drought to 28 at-bats. ... Jones snapped a 1-for-16 skid with his third-inning double.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: RF Nomar Mazara was given the day off after hurting his hand Saturday night in the outfield.

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (back) was set to make his final rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Norfolk. ... INF Steve Wilkerson (oblique) and OF Craig Gentry (rib fracture) likely won't come off the DL before August, Showalter said. ... RHP Andrew Cashner (neck strain) will be activated from the DL on Saturday or Sunday to face Toronto, Showalter said.

UP NEXT

Rangers: The rotation after the All-Star break, beginning Friday against visiting Cleveland: Martin Perez, Bartolo Colon, Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo and Minor.

Orioles: After the All-Star break, Dylan Bundy will start at Toronto on Friday night.

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

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Murphy's big hit helps Nats beat Mets 6-1

Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner each hit a two-run single in Washington's five-run seventh inning, helping the Nationals beat the New York Mets 6-1 on Sunday.

Matt Adams added two hits and scored a run as Washington salvaged a split of its four-game set against New York. A preseason favorite to win the NL East and contend for a World Series championship, the disappointing Nationals hit the All-Star break with a 48-48 record, good for third in the division.

Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) pitched six crisp innings in his second straight win. The veteran right-hander allowed one run and two hits, struck out six and walked two.

Jose Reyes drove in Michael Conforto with a fielder's choice in the second, tying it at 1, but Washington grabbed control in the seventh.

Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon opened the inning with walks against Anthony Swarzak (0-2). Tim Peterson then came in and surrendered singles to Adams and Murphy, who came off the bench to hit for Michael A. Taylor.

Jerry Blevins replaced Peterson with two out and runners on second and third. But he hit Wilmer Difo and Adam Eaton before Turner's single gave Washington a 6-1 lead.

New York wasted a solid start by Corey Oswalt, who allowed two hits in five innings. The Mets got off to a fast start this year, but hit the break last in the division with a 39-55 record, a percentage point behind fourth-place Miami.

WAITING

A steady drizzle delayed the start by 47 minutes.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) pitched 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start for Class A Potomac. He allowed three runs, struck out seven and walked one. Strasburg has been on the disabled list since June 10.

Mets: Yoenis Cespedes is scheduled to play five simulated innings in left field at the team's facility in Florida on Monday. Mets manager Mickey Callaway said the 32-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined by a right hip flexor and strained quadriceps, could return as the designated hitter next weekend against the Yankees If he is able to play on consecutive days.

MAKING MOVES

The Nationals recalled right-hander Trevor Gott from Triple-A Syracuse. Right-hander Austin Voth, who took the loss in his big league debut Saturday, was sent back to Syracuse.

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