It is 11:15 a.m. and a hot sun is rising high off the Atlantic Coast, in Viera, Fla., not far from Cape Canaveral, which seems like an appropriate region for Miguel Cabrera to begin another day of pregame batting practice.

He steps into the cage at Space Coast Stadium, squares himself, and waits for a pitch from Tigers coach Rafael Belliard.

In a blink, Cabrera spins and slides his right hand down the bat's barrel. He plunks a gentle liner to right field.

He effortlessly lashes two more pitches to right field. His engine no longer idling, he begins to sting harder liners to right.

He follows with back-to-back shots against a sturdy pitching-mound screen that saves Belliard from a month in the hospital.

Cabrera is shifting gears and strategies. Moving purposefully from the right side, to the center, to the left-field quadrant, he eases into a methodical, machine-like processing of pitches thrown within range of a bat he swings with blinding speed.

The swing lengthens with each six-pitch turn Cabrera takes as part of his rotation with other hitters. By his third set, Cabrera is launching pitches beyond the left-field fence.

Springing onto his right leg, like a rifle recoiling, he is able to lock and load his right-handed swing for optimum fury.

The next pitch disappears on a long line over the wall in left.

This, of course, is practice. But it is ritualistic practice. It's a craftsman's preparation.

Two hours later, against live pitching, Cabrera will rip a single to left field. A couple innings later, he will drive a pitch that would have traveled 430 feet or more had the Atlantic Ocean's stiff wind not shoved it back, to fall into the center fielder's glove a few feet in front of Space Coast Stadium's most distant wall.



From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130401/SPORTS0104/304010304#ixzz2PDmoEhuA