0

MLB NOTEBOOK: Melky: Buster deserved to win NL batting title — not me; Braun's name on another PED list

Leesburg’s Buster Posey, left, beat out San Francisco teammate Melky Cabrera for the NL batting title this past season after Cabrera failed a drug test and was subsequently banned 50 games by Major League Baseball.

Leesburg’s Buster Posey, left, beat out San Francisco teammate Melky Cabrera for the NL batting title this past season after Cabrera failed a drug test and was subsequently banned 50 games by Major League Baseball.

Melky Cabrera arrived at the Toronto Blue Jays’ camp for the start of spring training and issued a statement Friday on his suspension for performance-enhancing drugs last year.

Cabrera was in the midst of a stellar 2012 season for the San Francisco Giants, hitting .346 with 11 homers and 60 RBI in 113 games, when he was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball for taking a banned substance. The outfielder was eligible to return for the postseason, but the World Series champion Giants kept him off their roster.

In the offseason, Cabrera signed a two-year $16 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cabrera said Friday that his statement will be his final comment on the subject, and he congratulated former teammates Buster Posey of Leesburg on beating him our fair and square for the NL batting title. Posey batted .336 to win his first batting title and later scolded Cabrera publicly for his ban, calling it “a bad decision” by his teammate.

Cabrera owned up to that bad decision Friday.

“My goals have been to serve my punishment and to put that mistake behind me, and to work hard to be the best baseball player I can be,” he said. “At the end of last season, when it became clear that I would win the batting title despite my positive test, I asked the Players Association and MLB to make sure a more deserving player won, and I am very happy that my former teammate Buster Posey won that award instead of me.

“I also accepted the Giants’ decision not to bring me back for the playoffs after I served my punishment. Instead, I continued to work hard so I could be ready for the 2013 season. I hoped and expected that I would be allowed to put my mistake behind me and to start this season fresh.”

Cabrera also addressed reports linking him to the Miami clinic alleged to have been involved with performance-enhancing drugs.

“I have told MLB I will cooperate in their investigation the best I can, just as my legal counsel has told federal investigators,” Cabrera said. “I have been instructed by legal counsel not to answer questions relating to the pending investigations.

“This statement will be the last comment I will make on the events of the 2012 season. I am here to play the best baseball I can to help the Toronto Blue Jays win a world championship.”

REALLY, RYAN?: Ryan Braun’s name appeared on a list made by the founder of the Florida clinic who is linked to supplying performance-enhancing drugs to major league players.

Names found in the handwritten notebook are of players who allegedly received PEDs from Anthony Bosch and owed him money, ESPN reported Friday.

Next to Braun’s entry was written $1,500, an amount the Milwaukee Brewers first baseman was said to have owed Bosch. Also in the notebook were Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and Cabrera.

Braun, the 2011 NL MVP, already had surfaced in another report last week on the clinic in connection with another document.

Speaking with reporters Friday at the Brewers’ spring training complex in Phoenix, Braun steered clear of discussing Biogenesis of America, the now-shuttered clinic at the center of an investigation by Major League Baseball.

“I understand why a lot of you guys are probably here, but I made a statement last week,” Braun said. “I stand behind that statement. I’m not going to address that issue any further. As I stated, I’m happy to cooperate fully with any investigation into this matter.”

Former Boston star Youkilis says he’ll ‘always be a Red Sox’ at Yankees camp — then backs off statement after realizing it probably wasn’t a very smart thing to say

Kevin Youkilis did some damage control Friday in the New York Yankees’ spring-training camp after declaring a day earlier that he would “always be a Red Sox.”

The longtime Boston infielder in his first year with the Yankees quickly realized his faux pas.

“The one comment alone looks bad,” he told ESPN.com. “Let’s be honest, I mean, the comment by itself looks terrible, but that was not what it was meant to be.”

Youkilis wanted Yankees fans to rest assured that, despite playing for the hated rival Red Sox for more than eight years, he’s happy to be in New York and proud to be a Yankee.

“I think the Yankee fans are going to love the fact that every day I’m going to bust my butt and get dirty on the field and do all that stuff,” he said.

Youkilis, who signed a $12 million contract in the offseason, will start the season at third base as Alex Rodriguez’s replacement. Rodriguez underwent hip surgery in January and isn’t expected back until after the All-Star break.

“I said, ‘Oh my God,’ that does not look good,” Youkilis said of his Thursday comment about being a Red Sox for life. “It is one of those things that you have to take with a grain of salt. It wasn’t meant to be like that. It was talking about the history of who I am.

“It wasn’t meant to be anything like, ‘My heart is in Boston,’ because honestly it wasn’t there. My heart is in New York. I’m excited to live in the city. I’m excited for the whole experience.”

Linked to PEDs, Nats pitcher Gonzalez takes drug test, awaits results

The waiting game continues for Gio Gonzalez, Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals.

With pitchers and catchers arriving in Viera, Fla., this week, the inevitable questions were asked to Gonzalez about his connection to the Biogenesis clinic in South Florida, which allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to professional baseball players.

“I feel very confident,” the left-hander said. “At the end of the day, I’ve never taken performance-enhancing drugs, and I never will. I’m actually pretty excited about this year.”

The Washington Post also reported that Gonzalez had urine and blood samples taken two days following the release of the Miami New Times’ story about the South Florida clinic. The results had yet to be announced, and a player is only notified if he fails the test.

General manager Rizzo confirmed at spring training that the Nationals have no contingency plan in place to sign a free-agent pitcher, such as former Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse, if Gonzalez is suspended for any amount of time.

“We’re always looking to get ourselves better and deeper, and if there’s something to be done that makes sense for us, we’ll certainly be doing it,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo said he has complete confidence that Gonzalez did nothing wrong, and he expects to put the left-hander on the mound every fifth day.

Manager Davey Johnson also believes that Gonzalez is clean.

“I have gotten to know him real well, and I know he’s very conscious of taking care of himself,” Johnson said at spring training. “I’m sure he wouldn’t do anything that he knew was breaking the rules.”

Gonzalez also will pitch for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

RED SOX’S 793-GAME HOME SELLOUT STREAK ABOUT TO END: The longest sellout streak in American professional sports is likely to end in April.

The Boston Red Sox have gone 793 consecutive games with capacity crowds in Fenway Park since May 2003, but team president Larry Lucchino expects the 10-year run to “rest in peace” shortly after the 2013 season begins.

“That’s not such a terrible thing,” he said, according to ESPN.com. “It’s an extraordinary accomplishment.”

Lucchino acknowledged that the Red Sox have struggled to sell tickets during the offseason. The home opener on April 8 most likely will sell out, but the second game of the season in Fenway on April 10 is where the streak could stop.

“Of course, April weather doesn’t help a lot,” Lucchino said in Fort Myers, Fla., at the Red Sox’s spring training complex. “We have a lot of home games in April, and it could be as early as the second (game), but I do expect it to be in that first or second week.”

The previous sellout record in U.S. pro sports was 744 by the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. The Red Sox eclipsed that mark last June.

Lucchino believes winning will bring more fans back to Fenway. Last year, the Red Sox slumped to a 69-93 record and finished last in the American League East.

“If we have the kind of successful franchise, the successful team that we think we’ll have, people will jump back into the ballpark, albeit a later time in the season than they have historically,” he said.