Miguel Cabrera meets with teammates

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Miguel Cabrera met with his Detroit Tigers teammates for the first time this spring and said he felt welcome.

"I appreciated all that, what they did to me," Cabrera said. "I'm comfortable with these guys. I love these guys. They've always been good to me, so now I've got to do a lot of good things for them. Right now I'm going to prepare very hard and get ready to win games."

Cabrera, who was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving Feb. 16, did not play in the Tigers' 17-5 win over Florida Southern College on Friday. Cabrera did some hitting and fielding drills but wasn't available for the game and is not expected to travel to Dunedin, Fla., for Detroit's Grapefruit League opener Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

It isn't known when manager Jim Leyland will put Cabrera into the lineup and Leyland has dodged most questions about Cabrera. He did say that he expected Cabrera to be in the lineup when the Tigers open the regular season in New York on March 31.

When the slugger who finished second in the AL MVP voting last year after hitting .328 with 38 homers and 126 RBIs spoke with the media Friday he spoke about his weight, not his pending arraignment on March 16.

"I feel good. Everybody worries about my weight and what I do during the offseason, but right now I feel good," Cabrera said. "I'm not worried about being overweight. I worked hard in the offseason so right now I'm just worried about baseball and getting ready for the season."

Cabrera said that he is ready to go and that the Tigers are a formidable team with him surrounded by Victor Martinez and Magglio Ordonez in the lineup.

"If we're healthy, we're going to be very good, very dangerous," Cabrera said. "If our pitchers, our staff, can be healthy, I think we've got a good chance to win. We've got to go out there and compete. All day I saw a lot of good things, so the most important thing is to compete."