Cabrera told CSN Bay Area on July 27 that he had been tested for performance-enhancing drugs the previous week, though it’s unknown whether the test he referenced resulted in the positive test.
Manager Bruce Bochy broke the news to his team in a meeting about 90 minutes before the start of a 6-4 loss to the Washington Nationals.
“Melky, he was hurt by it,” Bochy said. “It’s obvious he was disappointed.”
Drug-testing labs check urine for its ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, which usually is 1 to 1 in adult males. If the lab notices any abnormality, it conducts an isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) test to determine whether the testosterone is exogenous, or came from outside the body.
There have been four suspensions under the major league drug program this year, with Philadelphia infielder Freddy Galvis and free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd also suspended 50 games apiece. There have been 70 suspensions under the minor league drug program.
In mid-May, MLB and the players’ union agreed to drop the 100-game suspension imposed on Colorado catcher Eliezer Alfonzo for a positive drug test because of the same procedural issues that came up in the case of Braun. Alfonzo missed 48 games _ the final 15 of last season and the first 33 of this year.
Braun’s 50-game suspension for a positive test was overturned in February by arbitrator Shyam Das after Braun’s lawyers argued his urine sample was not handled in the manner specified by baseball’s drug agreement. Das, who had been baseball’s permanent arbitrator since 1999, was fired this spring.
The Braun case led to revisions in the drug agreement between owners and the players’ association to better define procedures for handling the urine samples.
Last December, slugger Manny Ramirez received a 50-game suspension for a second positive drug test. The 12-time All-Star signed a one-year minor league contract with the Oakland Athletics on Feb. 20, but was released in June per his request while playing for Triple-A Sacramento before even reaching the big leagues with the A’s.
Ramirez retired from the Tampa Bay Rays in April 2011 rather than serve a 100-game suspension for a second failed drug test. The penalty was cut to 50 games because he sat out nearly all of last season.
The 28-year-old Cabrera, who became a marketing phenomenon this year with nicknames like “Got Melk?” “Melk Man” and “Melky Way,” produced a 51-hit month in May. Cabrera batted .429 in May with three homers, five triples, seven doubles and 17 RBIs. He hit safely in 25 of 29 games. The 51 hits matched Randy Winn for most hits in a month since the club came to San Francisco in 1958.
Cabrera also set the San Francisco record for most hits in May, passing Hall of Famer Willie Mays’ 49 from 1958.
“My first reaction, extremely saddened _ a great kid who’s having a great run,” former Yankees teammate Alex Rodriguez said. “Just sadness overall.”
“I’m sure he’s sad and confused,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a young man and has a great opportunity _ and challenge _ to turn a negative into a positive.”