Melky issues statement, says he'll say no more
Blue Jays general manager doesn't anticipate outfielder will face further discipline
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Melky Cabrera is officially done talking about the past and is choosing to focus only on the future.
Cabrera is fresh off a 50-game suspension he received last year while still a member of the Giants' organization. The suspension was imposed after he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone midway through the season.
The veteran outfielder made further news this spring when a Miami New Times report linked him to an anti-aging clinic in South Florida that reportedly distributes PED's to Major League athletes. Cabrera briefly addressed the controversy during his first day in camp with the Blue Jays, but he hopes the issue will quickly become a thing of the past.
"This statement will be the last comment I will make on the events of the 2012 season," Cabrera said in a prepared statement released Friday morning. "I have put my mistakes behind me, have learned my lesson, and have served my punishment. I am here to play the best baseball I can to help the Toronto Blue Jays win a world championship."
The news release came less than two hours before Cabrera was set to meet with the media for the first time since last year's suspension. Citing advice from Cabrera's lawyers, Toronto informed the media that specific questions regarding PED's would be strictly off-limits.
Cabrera also indicated in the release that he would cooperate fully with Major League Baseball in relation to the reported link to a shuttered South Florida clinic connected to performance-enhancing drugs. A Miami newspaper reported last month that Cabrera's name was in the clinic's notes.
The 28-year-old Cabrera was hitting .346 at the time of his suspension last season. Although he would have won the National League batting crown with that mark, Cabrera requested that he be ineligible, and MLB obliged.
"Last season ended for me when I admitted taking a banned substance and accepted and served my punishment of a 50-game suspension," Cabrera said in the statement. "Since that day, my goals have been to serve my punishment and to put that mistake behind me, and to work hard to be the best baseball player I can be.
"At the end of last season, when it became clear that I would win the batting title despite my positive test, I asked the Players' Association and MLB to make sure a more deserving player won, and I am very happy that my former teammate Buster Posey won that award instead of me."
There had been some debate about whether Cabrera would be in line for another possible suspension following the recent report out of Florida. General manager Alex Anthopoulos doesn't believe there is any danger of that happening.
Through lengthy discussions with the Commissioner's Office and Major League Baseball officials, the Blue Jays are confident that Cabrera already has carried about the appropriate punishment for his past misdeeds.
That doesn't mean any future disciplinary actions are guaranteed from not taking place, but for now, it's not something Anthopoulos is overly concerned about.
"My understanding is that there is no issue," Anthopoulos said. "I'm so far removed from the process, and obviously the Commissioner's Office is involved and all of that. But my understanding, as of today, we really don't have anything to be concerned about. He served his suspension, and right now, that's it. His suspension has been served."
While Cabrera used the majority of his news conference to talk about the excitement of joining a new team, Anthopoulos spent most of his time detailing the amount of background research his staff put in prior to signing the Dominican native to a two-year, $16 million contract.
Anthopoulos often talks about his willingness to give players a second chance. In recent years, the Blue Jays gambled on the likes of Yunel Escobar, Colby Rasmus, and to a certain extent, Brett Lawrie. All three players arrived with perceived baggage and character issues, but they were welcomed with open arms in Toronto.
The circumstances surrounding Cabrera are vastly different, but the premise is the same. While some organizations would have opted to take a pass, the Blue Jays jumped at the opportunity to add another high-end piece to their roster.
"If the feedback we received when we started digging with former teammates, staff, employees with other clubs, if it hadn't been so overwhelmingly strong, we wouldn't have even gotten involved at all, no matter how talented we think he could be or how much he could help us win games," Anthopoulos said.
"There wasn't anything, at least in those [past] two seasons, that you heard from a negative standpoint. That's all we could go off of. You add the fact you think he can play and help the team win, which is obviously the most important thing, and the fact that as an organization we're willing to give somebody a second chance, that's how we came to the decision."
The Blue Jays and Cabrera hope this issue now becomes a thing of the past, but that might be easier said than done. The club will travel to Kansas City, New York and San Francisco during the first half of the season -- all cities in which Cabrera used to call home. The media contingent will be out in full force during each of those series, and as a result, this storyline has the potential to linger.
It's also possible that more details will emerge from the report in Florida, but all of that is out of both Cabrera's the Blue Jays' control. All they can focus on is the task at hand, which is attempting to get Toronto into the postseason for the first time in 20 years.
The rest will eventually play itself out over time. Cabrera says he is done talking about anything other than baseball, and if the ballclub enjoys a lot of success, then it's likely the fans will forgive and forget -- at least in Toronto.
"Team wins, everyone's pleased," Anthopoulos said. "Team loses, no one is happy. Upset at the GM, upset at the players. It's just so hard to tell. Everything we're doing, we're trying to put a winning team on the field. We hope winning solves a lot of problems. All we can go off of is what's happened with other players.
"I don't have the list in front of me of everyone else has gone through it, but I probably would say let's look at the examples in the past. I know Toronto's not Baltimore, New York or Seattle, but there are certainly similarities to everything. I'd probably point to those and probably similar to what other players have gone through."