Programming note: Catch complete coverage of the Melky Cabrera story tonight on Giants Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m., and get a recap of all the day's news on SportsNet Central at 6, 10:30pm and midnight, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!
SAN FRANCISCO In an unprecedented agreement betweenMajor League Baseball and union officials, suspended Giants outfielder MelkyCabrera will be ruled ineligible to win the 2012 NL batting title, sources toldCSNBayArea.com.
Cabrera asked to be removed from consideration on Wednesday,when his representatives sent a letter to union officials. The PlayersAssociation worked out a one-time amendment to Rule 10.22(a) with MLB officialson Thursday, one day after Commissioner Bud Selig said publicly that he was not likely to take action on the matter.
Cabrera, who is hitting .346, will finish one plate appearanceshort of qualifying for the batting title. Rule 10.22(a) permits a player to berecognized as the official winner if extra hitless at-bats are added to hisaverage and it remains higher than any qualifying player. (Cabreras average would fall from .3464 to .3456 still.346 when rounded up.)
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Under terms of the agreement, Rule 10.22(a) will not apply to suspended players.
Cabreras request to refuse the extra at-bat is a clear attempt to rehab hispublic image and market value, both of which were tarnished by his Aug. 15suspension for testing positive for testosterone. The 27-year-old switch hitter sustained furtherdamage to his reputation through subsequent revelations that a liaison paid byhis agents, the Levinson brothers, created a phony Web site and product in anattempt to persuade the league that Cabrera inadvertently took a bannedsubstance.
In a statement to be released shortly, Cabrera said he had no wish to win an award that would be tainted, and that he believed it would be far better for someone more deserving to win.
The NL batting title now becomes a legitimate race betweenPittsburghs Andrew McCutchen (.339) and Cabreras former teammate, BusterPosey (.335). Both players are expected to be among the top finishers in MVPballoting as well.
No Giant has won a batting title since Barry Bonds hit .362in 2004.
I am grateful that the Players Association and MLB were able to honor my request," Cabrera said in a statement. "I know that changing the rules mid-season can present problems, and I thank the Players Association and MLB for finding a way to grant my request.
Cabrera was informed of his positive test at some point inJuly and the 50-game ban was announced Aug. 15 after his appeals wereexhausted. The Giants had 45 games remaining in the regular season when thesuspension was handed down.
REWIND: Cabrera suspended 50 games for positive testosterone test
The Giants could clinch the NL West title as early asSaturday, and in the event they play more than five postseason games, Cabrera wouldbe eligible to return.
Although Cabrera has not seen live pitching in more than amonth, sources tell CSNBayArea.com that he remains hopeful the Giants willdirect him to return once hes eligible. He continues to work out and keephimself in shape under terms of him uniform player contract, although sourcessaid he is not working out at any team facilities.
The Giants are not keen on bringing back Cabrera for thepostseason, citing the distraction factor as well as his questionable readinessfollowing a 50-game ban. But the club must remove him from the restricted listwhen his suspension is up. Although they could face a grievance if they do notadd him to the roster, the club could always cite baseball reasons for leavinghim aside.
Cabrera did not address his teammates after the suspension was announced; he had privately denied the positive test to Giants players and coaches when rumors began to swirl in the weeks preceding the Aug. 15 announcement, even blaming the whispers on Dodgers fans who were attempting to cause a distraction.
It was a hard fall for Cabrera, who had emerged as a fan favorite in San Francisco. Giants fans stuffed the ballot box to make the "Melk Man" theleading vote getter among NL outfielders for the All-Star Game in July. Cabrerawas selected as the MVP of the Midsummer Classic after leading the NationalLeague to a victory that secured home-field advantage in the World Series forthe NL pennant winner. Sources tell CSNBayArea.com that Cabrera has no plans toreturn his MVP trophy, however.
Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco, one of Cabrera's best friends on the team, said the suspended outfielder was embarrassed by his positive test. Cabrera's agent, Seth Levinson, said in a statement that his client is "truly humble person, is embarrassed by his mistake and sincerely regrets letting down his teammates, the Giants organization, and the fans. Since his suspension, Melky has been adamant that he did not want the batting title award, and that he wanted to solely focus on working hard to return to baseball so he could be in a position to win that award with honor.
Cabrera, a former New York Yankees top prospect, came to theGiants in an offseason trade following a breakout 2011 season for the KansasCity Royals. He will be a free agent this winter and was looking at a contractin excess of five years and 60 million before the suspension came down. Nowagents and league officials privately speculate that Cabrera will have to provehimself somewhere on a one-year deal and return to baseballs good graces.
His request to be removed from the batting race is a firstgesture to that end.