DETROIT -- The Pirates hit town with a baseball "contract" out on Miguel Cabrera.
Manager Clint Hurdle did not try to hide the fact the Bucs would be giving Cabrera -- who he called "the best hitter in baseball" -- four-finger salutes in the form of intentional walks and take their chances with the man protecting him in the Tigers' lineup, Prince Fielder.
Left-hander Mike Zagurski had his contract selected from Indianapolis to help carry out the strategy. Zagurski may not be the man assigned Fielder -- the pitcher's numbers actually are better against right-handed hitters, thanks to a wicked slider -- but his presence gives Hurdle more leeway with the other southpaw relievers, Tony Watson and Justin Wilson.
"You're going to pass on Cabrera more often that not, and take whatever comes your way with Fielder," Hurdle said.
The Pirates will take that tack even though Fielder of late has been lethal following walks of Cabrera, who leads the Majors with 57 RBIs in 48 team games. Fielder has gone 6-for-6, with eight RBIs, in the last six games after Cabrera walks.
"In this lineup, [Fielder] fits very well. You want somebody who is legit [behind Cabrera]," Hurdle said. "That 3-4 is as good as anybody has in the game."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less