Bautista ready to roll out welcome mat for Melky
Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista looks on as he takes part in batting practice during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
DUNEDIN, Fla. - Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista is ready to roll out the welcome mat for fellow Dominican Melky Cabrera.
The former Giants star, who is expected to arrive at Toronto's spring training base Friday, served a 50-game suspension last season for a positive testosterone test. And the Miami New Times recently released documents that purportedly linked Cabrera and several other players to purchases of banned drugs from a now-closed Florida anti-aging centre.
Cabrera's agents have said they know nothing of the clinic.
Bautista said Cabrera handled his drug suspension admirably.
"Melky is going to be welcomed (here), that's not in question," Bautista said Tuesday. "He's a man, he's a grown man. He admitted to his mistake and he served his suspension. And he's back. So that's pretty much it. There's no more to talk on that subject or that affair, in my eyes. So hopefully he addresses it the same way and everybody understands.
"He didn't run from it. He was man enough to just say 'I made a mistake. It was dumb. I shouldn't have done it. I got caught. And I'm paying the price. I'm even going to withdraw myself from contention of winning the batting title.'
"I think the way that he's handled it has been one for other guys to follow. As far as I know, he's been the only one to take that approach. And I respect him a lot for that."
The 28-year-old Cabrera was leading the National League in hitting at .346 for the San Francisco Giants when he was suspended Aug. 15.
Cabrera had played 113 games for San Francisco before his suspension. He had 25 doubles, 10 triples, 11 home runs, 60 runs batted in and 13 stolen bases in that span.
The Giants didn't put the outfielder on their post-season roster on the way to winning the World Series.
The six-foot, 200-pound switch-hitter has appeared in 984 career games with the New York Yankees (2005-09), Atlanta (2010), Kansas City (2011) and San Francisco (2012). He's posted a .284 average with 69 home runs and 417 RBIs over eight seasons.
Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos called him "a tremendous addition to the lineup.''