Detroit Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera dealt with nagging injuries and went to the disabled list for the first time in his career last season, but he believes he's healthy and will be ready to roll in 2016.
Cabrera spoke Tuesday to ESPN.com's Katie Strang about his aspirations for this year, how he's fully recovered this offseason, has added strength in his legs and has improved his conditioning.
"I feel the difference. I can feel my back leg more. Also, I can stay more back so I can drive the ball up the gap," said Cabrera, who added, "I mean, play 160 games. That's my goal. I'm trying not to miss too many games. I'm trying to play every day."
The 10-time All-Star will turn 33 in April but sounds as though he's in great shape and appears determined to bounce back after playing in only 119 contests during the 2015 campaign.
Cabrera still managed to bat .338 even as his power numbers declined—his 18 home runs were the fewest he hit since his rookie year when he played only 87 games.
Renewed optimism for his future as a player has to have Cabrera feeling particularly good about a fresh start this year. The same could be said for a reunion with new Tigers general manager Al Avila, who, according to Strang, played a big role in signing Cabrera to this first contract with the Marlins franchise at age 16.
"Back in the day, I say, 'Sign me, please,'" Cabrera said of his longtime relationship with Avila. "It's amazing because we still here and we want to win a World Series together."
Another notable offseason addition to Detroit, prized free-agent acquisition Justin Upton, is someone Cabrera feels will add a new dimension to the Tigers' batting order and provide an upgrade in the outfield.
"He plays defense, [brings] power, brings speed to the whole lineup. That's great to have him," Cabrera said of Upton.
But Cabrera did emphasize to Strang how vital it is for Detroit to stay healthy as a team in order to bounce back from missing the playoffs last year. It helps to have a proven workhorse in Upton, who has averaged well over 150 games played per season since 2011.
The American League Central alone figures to be tough, headlined by the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals, who played in the Fall Classic the year prior as well. The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians also finished north of .500 last season.
Even the Chicago White Sox have upgraded their roster considerably in the infield in particular, with the likes of All-Star Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie coming aboard.
There's no shortage of top-tier personnel in the Tigers' core, yet it will take a total team effort to markedly improve from 2015's 74-87 record, which came even as Cabrera claimed the AL batting title.