A lot of baseball fans were stunned when they found out San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was slapped with a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test. Some of those fans were also shocked to hear Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon get the same fate.
But New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wasn’t taken aback by either piece of news.
"Unfortunately, not surprised," Cashman said Tuesday on "The Michael Kay Show" when asked what he thought when he heard that Cabrera and Colon, both of whom played for the Yankees recently, were found to have elevated testosterone levels and were suspended.
"You see some spike in performance," Cashman said. "You hope it’s not the case, but you scratch your head and you wonder at the same time. But then you sit there and get a comfort level. Tests are taking place, so if people are passing their tests . . .
"In Bartolo’s case, as well as he has done last year as well through this year, at his age, after coming back from that surgery, makes you scratch your head."
Colon, of course, had rejuvenated his career over the past year and a half. The 39-year-old was 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts with the Athletics at the time of his suspension, and he went 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA as a member of the Yankees in 2011. That success comes on the heels of the injury-plagued veteran pitching only 257 innings the previous five seasons, a stretch that includes missing all of 2010.
Yet after having surgery that required the use of both stem cells and bone marrow, Colon’s velocity returned, and he was once again proving to be a reliable starter until the suspension was handed down.
Cabrera, who played parts of five seasons with the Yankees from 2005-09, enjoyed a similar spike in production. After being traded to the Braves during the 2010 offseason, he suffered through a dismal year, leading to his release at season’s end. The outfielder managed to put together a solid, bounce-back season in Kansas City in 2011, though, and was later traded to San Francisco, where he broke out this year.
Cabrera was hitting .346 and competing for the National League batting crown at the time of his suspension. The 28-year-old was also named the MVP of his first All-Star Game — something Cashman never saw coming early on in Cabrera’s career.
"When we traded him to Atlanta, we had him as a low-end, everyday regular or an excellent fourth outfielder," Cashman said of Cabrera. "And that’s how we show where we thought his ceiling was. As you know, he was starting for us in the World Series, but we had him as a low-end, everyday guy, not a National League MVP candidate. So I wasn’t surprised (by the suspension)."