LAKELAND, Fla. -- Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera wants to clear a few things up after an ugly incident last fall, right before his team surrendered the American League Central Division title to the Twins.
First, he's done drinking alcohol. And he's not an alcoholic.
"You guys write in the paper 'alcoholic,' that's not right," the Detroit first baseman said Monday before the Tigers' morning workout at spring training. "I don't know how to explain, but it's not an alcohol problem."
Five months ago, Cabrera went 0 for 4 and stranded six runners in a 5-1 loss to Chicago. That game started about 12 hours after Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski picked him up at a police station following a fight with his wife -- apparently after a late night out.
The All-Star first baseman with a $152.3 million contract had what police said was a 0.26 blood-alcohol reading -- three times above Michigan's legal limit for driving -- and a bruised and cut left cheek.
Cabrera apologized to his teammates for being drunk on a weekend while the Tigers were trying to hang on to the lead in the AL Central. They later lost the division in a tiebreaker game against Minnesota.
The 26-year-old Cabrera spent much of the winter undergoing counseling. He said he has quit drinking and doesn't miss it.
"When you want something and you know what you're doing is bad, you say this thing is not right, this thing is not going to help me in my work," he said. "So first you've got to think about yourself. First you help yourself and then you can help everybody."
Having discussed his rehabilitation with reporters in Detroit in January, Cabrera arrived at spring training last week hoping to resume a career that appeared briefly to be in jeopardy.
"I was comfortable talking about everything because I think you can't hide it. Someday it's [going to come out]," he said. "I can't hide what I'm doing; I can't lie to people when they see something. If I worry about what everybody is saying, there is going to be a lot on my mind. I don't want that. I want to do everything I can to play baseball."
Cabrera has grown up in the major leagues, having played in 87 games for the Florida Marlins at the age of 20 in 2003.
Manager Jim Leyland has been impressed with his cleanup hitter's decision to confront the matter publicly.
"He took on a challenge that he needed to take on. That's a sign of maturity," Leyland said.
"I know it was wrong what I did. but I can't hide that, you know?" Cabrera said. "It's there, so I have to be a man and say the truth, and say I made a mistake and I'll work in the season to be better. It's part of life to be a man and don't try to hide something if it's broken."
He did want to make it clear that he is not an alcoholic.
"It's what you guys call it, it's what you guys say. I don't have a problem with you guys saying that. I'm not going to put my mind on it every time you guys write something and I read it in the paper," he said.