08/15/12 9:38 PM ET
Melky banned 50 games for testosterone use
Giants left fielder, NL's second-leading batter, was MVP of All-Star Game
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
"I'm not thinking about that," Bochy said. "We have too many games in front of us. This is a tight race. So I'll be honest -- that's the last thing on my mind right now."Of course, reaching the postseason will become a challenge for the Giants without Cabrera, their No. 3 hitter. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval batted third in Wednesday's series finale against the Washington Nationals and can be expected to fill that role for the remainder of the season. Gregor Blanco replaced Cabrera in left field, though it's questionable whether he'll receive the bulk of the playing time at that spot. The Giants did not immediately announce a replacement for Cabrera on the 25-man active roster. "My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used," Cabrera said in a statement issued by the MLB Players Association. "I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization, and to the fans for letting them down." The Giants also issued a statement: "We were extremely disappointed to learn of the suspension of Melky Cabrera for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We fully support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs from our game. Per the protocol outline by Major League Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Giants will not comment further on this matter." Cabrera's batting average was 13 points behind that of league-leader Andrew McCutchen of Pittsburgh prior to Wednesday's games. With 501 plate appearances, Cabrera is one shy of automatically qualifying for the NL batting title. However, he would win the title if he were still to have the league's highest average with a theoretical addition of one at-bat. To explain, Cabrera is 159-for-459, good for a batting average of .3464 when carried to a fourth decimal. If Cabrera were theoretically given one more at-bat, 159-for-460 comes to an average of .3456. Both figures round out to .346. If no qualifying batter has hit for a higher average, Cabrera would be the NL batting champion. Such a process was a factor in Tony Gwynn's NL batting title in 1996, when he hit .353 but had 498 plate appearances. The addition of four at-bats would have given Gwynn a .349 average, five points better than the runner-up, Ellis Burks of Colorado. Thus, Gwynn was named the batting champion. Cabrera's season-long excellence this year appeared to guarantee him a lucrative contract after this season, when he'll be eligible for free agency. The Giants reportedly explored a multiyear extension for Cabrera recently but broke off talks with his representatives. Cabrera signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Giants prior to the season. Cabrera, acquired by the Giants in a November trade with Kansas City for pitcher Jonathan Sanchez, has been a popular player since his arrival as a full-time Major Leaguer with the Yankees in 2006. His personality prompted T-shirts reading, "Got Melk?" -- a take-off on the "Got Milk?" advertising campaign -- and he carries numerous nicknames such as "Melk Man." Cabrera became a favorite among Giants fans, too. They responded to his torrid hitting in May, when he amassed 51 hits to equal Randy Winn's San Francisco-era franchise record for a month. Cabrera's performance inspired a band of rooters to wear milkmen's outfits to AT&T Park and call themselves the "Melkmen." He was the starting center fielder for the 2009 World Series-champion Yankees, but was traded to Atlanta after the season. He had a poor year with the Braves, batting .255, and was traded to the Royals. He had a resurgence with Kansas City, batting .305 with 44 doubles and 87 RBIs. Cabrera broke out in a big way this season, batting .429 in May with three homers, five triples, seven doubles and 17 RBIs. He is the second Giants player to receive a suspension this year for using a performance-enhancing substance. Reliever Guillermo Mota is currently serving a 100-game suspension for testing positive for Clenbuterol, his second suspension for violating MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. He has begun throwing in anticipation of rejoining the Giants.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.