EXCLUSIVE: Melky Cabrera ruled ineligible to win batting crown

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EXCLUSIVE: Melky Cabrera ruled ineligible to win batting crown

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.)

RELATED: Melky Cabrera career stats 2012 game logs News

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.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.