A public apology to Melky Cabrera

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A public apology to Melky Cabrera

SAN FRANCISCO

Medical school graduates take the Hippocratic oath, which can be distilled into three words: Do no harm.

Journalism school grads take no such oath, but our duty is clear: We're bound to seek the truth, to be as fair and accurate as possible and to serve the interests of readers.

I thought I was doing that Friday when I chose to ask Melky Cabrera about rumors that I had heard from several different readers who had contacted me via email and my Twitter account over the past few days. I had no idea where these rumors started, but the questions were starting to mushroom about whether Cabrera flunked a drug test and would face a 50-game suspension.

Let's be clear: There is no evidence that there is any shred of truth to these rumors. Cabrera knew nothing about it. He contacted the union and his agent. They told him the rumors were unfounded as well. If Cabrera had failed a test, he and the union would've been the first to know. The rumor, to my knowledge, is a red herring. Cabrera even suggested to me that Dodgers fans could have made it up as a distraction.

I wasn't 100 percent sure what to do next. On one hand, it's my duty to serve readers who look to me to provide accurate information about the team I cover. On the other hand, knocking down the rumors would serve to give greater voice to them.

Ultimately, I decided to serve the truth.

Upon reflection, I did more harm than good.

We live in a different media universe and the rules are changing every day. Information is immediate. The level of interaction between fans and journalists is greater than ever. Anyone can self-publish any thought that rumbles through his or her head, true or untrue. It can be a confusing cacophony for any journalist, and it certainly is for me at times.

Its my job to serve readers. But what if its just one tenth of one percent of my readership who are asking these questions? Is it my responsibility to respond to them in a public way?

Asking these questions from a different vantage point: If I were Melky Cabrera, would I appreciate a reporter who knocked down a rumor that was just a whisper in some corners of the Internet? Or would I be royally pissed to see my name mentioned alongside PEDs, no matter the context, by a credentialed, professional journalist?

Its obvious, isn't it? Well, it should have been obvious to me. It wasn't.

In retrospect, I made the wrong decision to address these rumors on my Twitter account and disseminate it to my 30,000-plus followers.

So I feel its important that I issue a public apology to Melky Cabrera for giving greater voice to a rumor that, to the best of my knowledge and on his word, has absolutely no basis in fact.

I can only hope that he, and the rest of the Giants clubhouse,coaches and front-office personnel, at least understand that my motivations were not nefarious or self-oriented in any way. I wasn't looking to create a story. I was trying to squash one that has no basis in fact.

As I often say to folks who ask me to describe my job, I write about the Giants, not for them. In this case, I'm not apologizing becauseIm seeking their approval. I'm apologizing because its the right thing to do.

About that, I am certain.

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

SAN FRANCISCO — As reporters approached Mark Melancon’s locker Monday afternoon, the closer looked up at a clubhouse clock and smiled.

“I guess it’s 3:30,” he said softly. 

A year ago at this time, Giants relievers would have been out in left field jogging and playing catch. The routine was changed a week into the season, and players, coaches and management expressed confusion and frustration Monday about how that became the centerpiece of a FOX Sports article portraying the clubhouse as “boring” and a problem.

The piece, written by Ken Rosenthal and posted Monday morning, said Melancon “rubbed some teammates the wrong way early in the season by putting an end to the bullpen’s 3:30 p.m. stretching session before night games, a practice that the relievers began in 2012.”

Several players mocked the concept as they stretched Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy called it a non-story.

“It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds,” he said. 

Melancon defended the move, saying it was made collectively by the revamped bullpen and staff. He said the Giants decided to be better about time management, noting that it did not make sense for the relievers to run and throw an hour before going back on the field with the rest of the team. The decision was made to instead focus on lifting, eating and doing other clubhouse work in the hours leading up to the 4:30 team stretch. 

“Really it’s nothing — it’s kind of funny it’s been raised,” Melancon said. “I was brought in to be a leader here and take ownership of the bullpen. In conversations with guys and the coaching staff, we decided to change the stretch time. It was the first series of the year, and from a time management standpoint, it’s been good. I’m shocked, but if this is the reason we’re pointing out (for the team’s record), please bring it on.

“We’re talking about stretching. Stretching,” Melancon added, joking he felt like Allen Iverson. 

The story also mentioned Melancon’s routine of spending the first six or seven innings in the clubhouse preparing to pitch. Melancon said he is usually in the bullpen by the fifth or sixth, and noted that that’s been the way of all closers he has worked under, from Mariano Rivera to Jonathan Papelbon. 

“I don’t know anyone who has had a problem with (my routine),” he said. 

His manager certainly doesn’t. Bochy said every closer he has managed did the same thing because they almost never pitch until the ninth. Of course, that’s where the real problem comes. Melancon has a 4.58 ERA and has blown four saves. He said that should have been the focus of any story about the Giants’ struggles. 

“I understand if you lose this many games there’s got to be something to blame, and I’ll take this blame on,” he said. “I haven’t pitched well … There are a lot of things I can be better at with my performance on the field, and that’s first and foremost.”

The Giants expected a bit more on the mound, and Melancon knows it. He owns that part of this. But they have no complaints, sources said, about anything he has done off the field. Several teammates noted Monday that Melancon has also been pitching hurt for a team that’s hopelessly buried in the standings. Melancon also had team employees remodel a small room behind the dugout — adding new seats, a flat screen TV, and inspirational quotes — so relievers were more comfortable while waiting to pitch.

Those are small changes, with nothing to do with how the team has played. And given the way the bullpen pitched last year, any change probably should have been welcomed. 

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

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AP

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

Bud Black and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series opener at AT&T Park:

Rockies (47-31) 
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
5. Raimel Tapia (L) RF
6. Ian Desmond (R) LF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. German Marquez (R) P (5-3, 3.92 ERA)

Giants (27-51)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (2-9, 4.74 ERA)