- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN Insider
We’ve reached the stage of the season when a lot of injuries are probably not going to be healed by the time the playoffs start, a time when the team athletic trainers and the doctors are running out of time to fully treat their patients. In a lot of cases for contenders, open questions will linger about whether star players can actually be productive when they come back.
Here's a look at the top injury situations hanging over contenders with three weeks and three days remaining in the regular season -- in a race against time:
1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
The team’s description of his injury -- that the best hitter in baseball has an abdominal issue -- has been obtuse, and imprecise, which is well within the rights of the Tigers. They’re kind of going the route of an NHL team that describes an ailment, officially, as a "lower body injury" during the playoffs.
Which leaves us to speculate, and Cabrera’s injury does seem to have all signs of a sports hernia.
If that’s the case, it means Cabrera is going to have to deal with this until he has corrective surgery -- and he has demonstrated over the last month or so that he can hit with his injury. But you do wonder if, in his effort to protect Cabrera during the postseason, Jim Leyland may consider playing Jhonny Peralta at third base when Peralta becomes eligible to rejoin the team.
Cabrera, one of the game’s great grinders, has missed four of the last five games.
2. Allen Craig, Cardinals
11dJeff Banister, Special to ESPN.com
12dBrayan Pena, Special to ESPN.com
15dMatt Buschmann, Special to ESPN.com
16dA.J. Ellis, Special for ESPN.com
17dRob Manfred, Special to ESPN.com