Padres' Everth Cabrera emotional in accepting drug suspension
Banned 50 games by MLB Monday
Everth Cabrera struggled to control his emotions after admitting he took a banned substance that led to his 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball.
San Diego's All-Star shortstop wiped his eyes. He took a deep breath, and then a drink of water.
Finally, as he was promising fans that he would come back next year and play for them, he couldn't hold back anymore.
Cabrera put his head in his left hand and cried.
Cabrera, who leads the NL with 37 stolen bases, was penalized Monday for his relationship to Biogenesis of America, a closed anti-aging clinic in Florida accused of distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs.
Although the Padres are 10 games out in the NL West, they're playing better than they had been. And now they'll be without their switch-hitting leadoff batter for the rest of the season.
Cabrera didn't have a positive drug test. Padres manager Bud Black said during spring training that he felt, after speaking with Cabrera, that his case would be resolved in a positive manner.
Even after MLB announced the Biogenesis suspensions, and before Cabrera spoke, Black and general manager Josh Byrnes said they still weren't clear about the shortstop's involvement with the clinic.
Dressed in a black polo shirt, camouflage cargo shorts and flip flops, Cabrera sat at a table on the stage in an auditorium at Petco Park and spoke through an interpreter. He didn't take questions.
Cabrera said he took a banned substance — which he didn't identify — for four days last year. He had dislocated a shoulder in 2011 in Triple-A and realized about two weeks before spring training began that it was only about 50 per cent healed. It wasn't clear whether he took the banned substance just before spring training or after it had started.
"I was going through a very frustrating time," Cabrera said through the interpreter. "And like I said before, I made the decision to take this. I'm the one responsible for this. But I do want to make it clear I did not search for this. This was something that was presented to me. My former representation were the ones who introduced me to this person."
Cabrera said Juan Nunez, a consultant for ACES Inc., which was headed by brothers Sam and Seth Levinson, took him to meet Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch.
When he met Bosch, "I was scared in my heart," Cabrera said. "I knew it wasn't what I wanted to do. It wasn't the best decision, and even when I went in that clinic, I felt scared."
Cabrera said Bosch told him it would be a long process, but that he just wanted a healthier shoulder.
He said he received a package in Arizona. After taking the substance for four days, "I realized it wasn't necessary. My heart and my conscience was killing me."
Cabrera said he was uncomfortable being around his teammates and then realized he didn't need to take the substance to be a successful major leaguer.
"I knew what I was getting myself into," he said. "That's why I made the decision to stop. I knew what was going on in the sense that I knew something could happen like is happening now."
Cabrera then spoke in English, pausing several times to take a deep breath.
'I'm very sorry'
"My situation I have right now ... I'm very sorry with all my fans in San Diego with this situation," he said. "I'm very sorry with my organization. I'm very sorry with all my teammates and I'm very sorry about this situation I have right now. It's a tough situation for me. It's a tough situation for the organization and I'm making all my responsibility is just me."
He began to say something about the fans but then broke down.
Cabrera, who is from Nicaragua, then spoke again in Spanish, delivering a warning to other Latin American players "that come to this country to try to succeed and get ahead.
"To all the players who leave so much behind in their countries, who come to this country and you're ignorant about a lot of things, be careful with who you associate with, people who surround you that may be only interested in financial gains, who may not be interested in your personal well-being," he said through the interpreter.
The suspension will cost Cabrera $348,361 of his $1,275,000 salary.
Earlier Monday, Byrnes spoke on a conference call about Cabrera's suspension.
"As we continue to try to clean up the game, it's a painful but necessary step," Byrnes said.
"This is difficult. It hits close to home," he added. "But in the longer view it's a good thing for the game. I think this is a big day for Major League Baseball and the players who've been clean for some time. Their voices are being heard."
Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal was suspended the first 50 games of the season for testing positive to testosterone. He's out for the season with a knee injury.
Pitcher Fautino De Los Santos, who was on the Padres' 40-man roster when the Biogenesis names first leaked out, also was suspended. He's rehabbing an injury in Arizona.
"It's obvious that it was the clinic 3,000 miles away that was sort of the centre of all this," Byrnes said. "It affected us and we've got to deal with it."
Black said Logan Forsythe will start at shortstop Tuesday night against Baltimore. Ronny Cedeno, signed to a minor league deal on Saturday, will be added to the 25-man roster on Tuesday and will be in the mix at shortstop, as well as Alexi Amarista, Black said.