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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kepner: The true Melky Cabrera, so the Blue Jays hope

As Billy Welu and his yellow-speckled jawline used to say…“Trust is a must, or your game is a bust!”

This is old news, and all parties swiftly moved on: The Giants won the World Series without Cabrera; Major League Baseball, at Cabrera’s request, removed him from consideration for a batting title he otherwise would have won; and the Blue Jays signed him to a two-year, $16 million contract — theoretically more than he would have made without cheating, but less than he would have made had he not been caught.

Now Cabrera is playing for a contract again, and playing very well, after a 2013 ruined by injuries. What does it all mean?

“As his teammate,” starter R. A. Dickey said, “I feel like I have to take it at face value, and face value is that he’s been tested many times. I’ve even seen him tested a lot this year, and it hasn’t come back for anything. So I’d have to say that he served his penalty and he owned up to it — gave back his batting title, all that stuff, and he’s trying to do it the right way now.

“He wasn’t healthy last year. The hope is that what we’re seeing now is authentically who he is. I’m certainly going to believe the best about him.”

Cabrera, a Dominican native, has always been quiet and somewhat shy in public, and his interpreter was not available in Boston to conduct an interview. But Cabrera’s back says a lot about his journey. A tattoo with the M.L.B. logo, applied when he was still in the minors, adorns his shoulder blade. A scar on his lower back, along his spine, reveals the trauma of 2013.

Cabrera, 29, struggled all season with leg injuries that defied explanation. Tests routinely came back negative.

“They couldn’t find anything,” Gibbons said, “just normal wear and tear, so nobody knew what it was. Of course, all you’d hear is, ‘Well, the year before, he was on steroids, so maybe this is the aftereffect of that.’ But it shouldn’t affect you that much.”

Gibbons added: “He couldn’t run, man. Balls were dropping in. We talk about how much our pitching struggled last year, but, shoot, if there was a ball airborne out there, we weren’t getting it. And it finally got to the point we had to shut him down. So he’s rehabbing down in Florida, his back started hurting him and he went and got an M.R.I. — walnut-size tumor, right on his spine.”

Cabrera told reporters this spring that he initially feared for his life. But the tumor was found to be benign, and now that he moves better, he hits better, too. Cabrera earned a degree of skepticism by the choices that led to his suspension, but Bautista said Cabrera deserved credit, not suspicion, for the way he was playing.

Repoz Posted: May 25, 2014 at 09:01 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jays, steroids

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   1. Greg K Posted: May 25, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4713088)
Melky is a singles machine (and seemingly has added some power). It's odd to think that he once had a touted glove in CF. He's moving better than he did last year, but at 29 he looks like he plays left field like an ageing Carlos Lee.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: May 25, 2014 at 05:49 PM (#4713200)
I am so hoping he wins AL Comeback Player of the Year.
   3. Enrico Pallazzo Posted: May 25, 2014 at 07:36 PM (#4713242)
For the record, he made an excellent play at the wall today and has vastly improved his range since last year. Gibbons is right about balls falling in; the dude could barely move.
   4. Greg K Posted: May 25, 2014 at 11:38 PM (#4713311)
I am so hoping he wins AL Comeback Player of the Year.

Team-mate Mark Buehrle could be competing for that honour. Though he's probably hurt by the fact that he wasn't really bad last year, just meh.
   5. Rants Mulliniks Posted: May 26, 2014 at 09:21 AM (#4713364)
#1 - I think a lot of that is just his gait and build. I don't think he'd be much of a CF right now, but he moves faster than it appears.

I just can't believe the Jays don't suck!!!
   6. Greg K Posted: May 26, 2014 at 10:16 AM (#4713377)
Yeah it's a fun ride and I plan on enjoying it while it lasts.

I have a friend coming over from the UK who's dying to see his first MLB game live. We've got tickets for June 25th against the Yankees. I'm hoping the Jays are still among the leaders by then as that should be a fun atmosphere for your first game.
   7. Random Transaction Generator Posted: May 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM (#4713388)
Earlier in the season I was complaining about how it wasn't fun to watch the Jays because the bullpen would inevitably ruin the game.
Recently, the relievers have sucked less than before (more of a "bend don't break" thing happening) and it's just nerve-wracking, not hate-inducing.

What's really fun is that Cabrera now has Gose (#9), and Reyes (#1) getting on base for him more often, so he should start to knock in more runs.
Add in the consistent OBP/SLG of Bautista and the Ruthian-level slugging by Encarnacion this month, and they are a run-producing engine that Toronto hasn't seen since 1993.
   8. Greg K Posted: May 26, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4713390)
What's funny is that they've faced so many lefties recently so they've had guys like Tolleson, Kratz, and Pillar in with Lind and Francisco on the bench, and they're still winning!
   9. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 26, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4713472)
I'm just amazed that he's only 29.

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