TORONTO – Ryan Vogelsong was the first Giant to walk over and embrace Melky Cabrera in between his rounds of batting practice. Gregor Blanco soon followed.
Members of the coaching staff shook his hand and smiled. Bullpen catcher Billy Hayes put him in a bear hug. Longtime clubhouse man Mike Murphy hugged him and joked with him, too.
Bygones can be bygones when everyone owns a World Series ring, it seems.
And now Cabrera owns one, too. Giants manager Bruce Bochy presented the four-month sensation turned disgraced outfielder with the signature baby blue Tiffany bag. The exchange was made where lenses and note pads couldn’t go, in a tunnel between the two clubhouses – a private affair, which is what Cabrera wanted.
“It’s not like we had a plan,” Bochy said. “Between him wanting to get ready for the game and having a preference for a more private deal, that was up to him.”
It didn’t last long. Bochy and PR official Matt Chisholm reappeared barely a minute later. Cabrera thanked the Giants, thanked Bochy, offered the manager a hug and took possession of the bag without stopping to open it.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone that Cabrera would get a ring, even though he dropped out of sight without explanation or apology to his teammates on Aug. 15, when he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for testosterone. He flunked the test prior to the All-Star Game in July, when he was named MVP (and received a trophy and a Camaro) while helping to win home-field advantage for the Giants in the World Series.
Everyone who appears on the roster, even for one day, receives a ring. That’s just how it’s done.
It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that Cabrera wanted it done in private, unlike last month’s visit to Wrigley Field when plenty of cameras and reporters were there to document Nate Schierholtz getting his ring.
Perhaps it also shouldn’t come as a surprise that Cabrera did not honor a pledge to talk to San Francisco-area reporters after batting practice.
So the most noteworthy moment might have been Vogelsong’s hug. The right-hander is starting on Wednesday and presumably will have to face Cabrera, after all.
Maybe if the Giants had crashed and burned in September, or gone out in a whimper in Cincinnati in the NLDS, the grudges would be stronger. But parades down Market Street have a way of softening hearts.
Cabrera is starting at DH and batting leadoff, but he has two balky hamstrings. He's going for an MRI exam to rule out any structural issues. As you might have seen in my off-day story, the Giants' left fielders rank 25th in OPS among 30 major league clubs; one of the five teams getting less production in left field is ... the Toronto Blue Jays, and (mostly) Cabrera.
Bochy was tempted to toss Brett Pill in the DH spot against right-handed knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey, but he wanted to keep Marco Scutaro’s hot bat in the lineup while also giving his back a rest on the turf here at Rogers Centre.
Scutaro played here with the Jays in 2008-09, so he knows what standing on the artificial surface can do to your back. When the DH was suggested to him, Scutaro immediately said yes.
So Nick Noonan gets a start at second base and Buster Posey will get his rest day as the DH in Wednesday night’s series finale. That way, Posey can bounce back and catch Thursday night’s game at Colorado after a late-night flight.
Why the swap between Pill and Francisco Peguero?
Well, Bochy said Gregor Blanco was going to start both games in Toronto and he didn’t see Peguero playing much. They have more coverage now that Angel Pagan isn’t day-to-day with his groin issue. And Pill was raking at Fresno.
“We’ll try to keep these guys hot,” Bochy said. “We’ll try to keep them going the best we can.”
Right-hander Ramon Ortiz, who didn't make the Giants out of spring training a year ago as a non-roster free agent, is going to start in place of Brandon Morrow on Wednesday. Morrow has upper back spasms and will be pushed back to Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
It was neat to see Ortiz in the Blue Jays clubhouse today. There aren't many players still in the league from the Angels and Dodgers clubs I covered from 1998-2003. The Blue Jays have a couple with Ortiz and Maicer Izturis. And there's Mark DeRosa, too -- otherwise known as today's cleanup hitter for Toronto. (!!)