In a surprise appearance, Everth Cabrera comes off of suspension and talks to media
Monday morning, with the prospect of no more games to cover or write about, I sucked on a Bloody Mary for breakfast and sat in front of the laptop, contemplating the off-season. There were certain moves that had to be made, a lot of player turnover expected, and the Padres had to get down to the 40-man roster they want in order to protect young prospects from the Rule 5 draft in December.
December is a long way off. I opened up my email and was bailed out of recklessly speculating on what sort of team would be shaping up in Peoria next March by a message from Padres Media Relations. From 11 AM until Noon, the clubhouse would be open to media.
A chance for some sort of closure, perhaps, maybe Jedd Gyorko reflecting on a fine rookie season or Yonder Alonso with an update on the progression of the injured hand, and maybe Carlos Quentin would stop by and have something to say about his latest knee surgery. I caught the trolley up to Petco Park on time, but the trolley didn’t cooperate and delivered me there a little late.
It didn’t matter. There were more cameras than scribes, and as the scribes bantered with each other about what they were doing in the off-season, the cameras rolled on the sole player in the club house, Alexi Amarista, and admired the Little Ninja as he cleaned out his locker and sorted through his collection of bats.
Amarista’s English isn’t so good, and the scribes didn’t have any questions for him. I’ve spoken to him in Spanish alone, but I generally don’t ask questions to the Spanish-speaking players in a group interview, I don’t want to be rude.
Instead, I got the scoop on what the scribes were going to be up to for the next few months. Forrest will do some hockey and maybe some basketball, Dennis thinks he’ll be assigned some Mixed Martial Arts and maybe some boxing, Corey just does baseball, and the rest of the guys will do Chargers or Aztecs football or both.
We were ready to pack it in when Everth Cabrera showed up a few minutes before noon. Cabrera was suspended by Major League Baseball for his role in the Biogenesis scandal. Everth never tested positive, but he, along with a dozen other players, accepted the suspension and a 50-game hiatus.
Only Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees fought the suspension, which will play out interestingly in the off-season when his appeal is heard. Even Ryan Braun from the Milwaukee Brewers, who successfully fought the allegations of a positive test, eventually acquiesced to MLB’s hidden evidence from Biogenesis and accepted a 50-game furlough.
During spring training, the Commissioner’s Office came out with these implications and at the time, Everth stated that he would cooperate with the probe. He didn’t admit guilt nor innocence and invoked the all-too-easy excuse on advice from my attorney in order to avoid specific questions with media.
As the season progressed, Everth was good. Stealing bases, hitting for average, and playing excellent at shortstop paid off with an All-Star appearance. And soon thereafter, Everth announced that he was accepting his 50-game suspension, and pleaded guilty to using steroids in the off-season to get over an injury faster.
So, at ten minutes until noon, Everth Cabrera stood in front of his locker in the club house, all alone. A dozen cameras began filming, and the few of us scribes that showed up were there on the wings.
“There’s a lot of people,” Everth said, completely surrounded by media after changing into workout clothing. And the insignificant questions from behind the cameras started first, how do you feel after being gone for fifty games, and so on.
“That situation for me was really tough,” Cabrera said. After going on about working out during the suspension and how his teammates might or might not have reacted to his hiatus, Everth got more to the point.
“I want to pay back all that happened to me for my fans in San Diego, and for the organization,” he said. “My responsibility right now is to start my workouts, really hard.”
My question to Everth was even more pointed. How do you take this negative thing that happened and turn it into a positive thing?
“A lot of things,” he said, as he became emotional. “This thing that happened to me… I can be a better player. A better person and a better attitude to the game. I love more my organization, and I love more my work. I love what I do for my work and for my life, and now I’ll be working more hard. I don’t know what I can do for the rest of my career, but I’ll put a lot of work to be a special player in this game.”
As cynical as I am, that was worth the trip alone. See you in March, Everth.
The corresponding move once Everth came off of the suspension was to designate catcher Chris Robinson for assignment. Assuming that Robisnon isn’t claimed, he could be back on a Padres minor league roster. Let’s hope so. Chris was a great story in the 2013 season, and if he’s game for another year of being organizational depth, there’s always a chance he’ll be called up again.
The Padres announced that Chase Headley’s knee surgery went well. It was arthroscopic, which likely means that only tissue was cut from the torn meniscus, and that Chase will rehab and resume a normal spring training regimen.
The Ford C. Frick award nominations have been finalized, and Padres Spanish announcer Eduardo Ortega is on the ballot. The award is for entrance into the announcers Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Voting will be cast in December. Ortega has been announcing baseball for 27 years, 21 of which have been with the Padres.