Melky Cabrera joins Jays, admits drug mistake
By BRUCE LOWITT
DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) Melky Cabrera drew hugs from his new Toronto teammates, then trotted out his own mantra to deflect questions about last year's drug suspension.
The 28-year-old outfielder joined the Blue Jays at spring training on Friday. He was the MVP of the All-Star game last summer, but was later suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball after a positive test for testosterone.
The San Francisco Giants left him off the postseason roster during their run to the World Series championship.
With only slight variations, Cabrera repeatedly said through a translator: "I made a mistake. I paid the price for it. I'm looking forward to 2013."
The reason for his reticence: a pending investigation, he said.
"My lawyers are dealing with MLB. The lawyers are going to be the ones making all the statements about last year," he said.
Cabrera signed a two-year contract worth $16 million soon after the Giants let him go.
Cabrera led the NL in hitting at .346 when he was suspended Aug. 15. He asked MLB for a rules change that disqualified him from the batting title, saying it would be a tainted achievement. He had 11 home runs, 25 doubles and 60 RBIs in 113 games.
"I don't know if I'm going to have the numbers I had last year. I can't predict the numbers," he said. "The only thing I know is that I worked out six days a week in the Dominican to be ready for this season. I'm ready."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who was Cabrera's bench coach when both were with Kansas City, said it was good to see him on the field.
"The kid can hit," Gibbons said. "In Kansas City, he had over 200 hits. So I've only seen the kid when he's been good."
Cabrera said he had no worries about how his Blue Jays teammates would accept him, particularly he had close friends waiting inside.
"They all told me, `This is your home for now.' I talked to those guys during the offseason. They told me, `Don't worry about anything else. You're going to be received with open arms.' That's what happened.," he said.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the team had conducted a complete background check. He said comments from Cabrera's former teammates, coaches and front-office personnel were uniformly positive.
Anthopoulos also said that in a private conversation with the eight-year veteran, he had asked why Cabrera had violated baseball's drug policy. While not disclosing the response, he was satisfied that Cabrera was contrite.
"He understands as well that people have a right to ask you whatever they want," Anthopoulos said. "It was a good conversation overall and I asked all those things. Obviously, I was satisfied at that point."
Cabrera said he didn't dread this day.
"I knew it was coming," he said. "I was looking forward to it. I wanted to face the press and the people. I knew I made a mistake. It's in the past and I'm going to move forward."
Updated February 15, 2013
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