Former Tri-City Dust Devil Everth Cabrera struggled to control his emotions after admitting he took a banned substance that led to his 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball.
San Diego’s All-Star shortstop wiped his eyes. He took a deep breath, and then a drink of water.
Finally, as he was promising fans that he would come back next year and play for them, he couldn’t hold back anymore.
Cabrera put his head in his left hand and cried.
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Cabrera, who leads the NL with 37 stolen bases, was penalized Monday for his relationship to Biogenesis of America, a closed anti-aging clinic in Florida accused of distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs.
Although the Padres are 10 games out in the NL West, they’re playing better than they had been. And now they’ll be without their switch-hitting leadoff batter for the rest of the season.
Cabrera didn’t have a positive drug test. Padres manager Bud Black said during spring training that he felt, after speaking with Cabrera, that his case would be resolved in a positive manner.
Cabrera started his career in the Colorado Rockies organization in 2006, making his professional debut with the team's rookie affiliate in Casper, Wyo. In 2007, he joined the Tri-City Dust Devils, where he hit .300 with 29 runs, 23 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in 42 games before a broken ankle ended his season. After stealing 73 bases in 80 games at Asheville in 2008, he was taken by San Diego in the Rule 5 draft that winter and made the Padres' Opening Day roster in 2009.
Even after MLB announced the Biogenesis suspensions, and before Cabrera spoke, Black and general manager Josh Byrnes said they still weren’t clear about the shortstop’s involvement with the clinic.
Dressed in a black polo shirt, camouflage cargo shorts and flip flops, Cabrera sat at a table on the stage in an auditorium at Petco Park and spoke through an interpreter. He didn’t take questions.
Cabrera said he took a banned substance — which he didn’t identify — for four days last year. He had dislocated a shoulder in 2011 in Triple-A and realized about two weeks before spring training began that it was only about 50 percent healed. It wasn’t clear whether he took the banned substance just before spring training or after it had started.
“I was going through a very frustrating time,” Cabrera said through the interpreter. “And like I said before, I made the decision to take this. I’m the one responsible for this. But I do want to make it clear I did not search for this. This was something that was presented to me. My former representation were the ones who introduced me to this person.”
Cabrera said Juan Nunez, a consultant for ACES Inc., which was headed by brothers Sam and Seth Levinson, took him to meet Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch.
When he met Bosch, “I was scared in my heart,” Cabrera said. “I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do. It wasn’t the best decision, and even when I went in that clinic, I felt scared.”
Cabrera said Bosch told him it would be a long process, but that he just wanted a healthier shoulder.