Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games Wednesday following a positive test for testosterone, putting an abrupt end to what had been an MVP-caliber regular season and throwing the San Francisco Giants' playoff hopes into doubt.
Cabrera leads the National League with 159 hits, and is second in batting average behind Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen. Cabrera's penalty was the first for a high-profile player since last year's NL MVP, Ryan Braun, had his suspension overturned by an arbitrator last winter.
"My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used," Cabrera said in a statement released by the union. "I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down."
The suspension would extend into the playoffs if the Giants advance.
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Cabrera is batting .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBI in his first season with San Francisco and is five hits shy of 1,000 in his big-league career. He also earned MVP honors at the All-Star game.
He will miss the final 45 games of the regular season and serve the remainder of the suspension at the start of next season or during the postseason, depending on whether the Giants make the playoffs and how far they advance. If the Giants wanted him to become active in the middle of a playoff series, they would have to play a man short from the start of the series until the suspension ends because rosters can't be altered mid-series.
"We were extremely disappointed," the Giants said in a statement. "We fully support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs from our game."
It was not immediately known whether Cabrera's positive test occurred before the All-Star game. There have been four suspensions under the major-league drug program this year.
■ Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was shut down as he strives to return from a strained right Achilles tendon. Ortiz, on the 15-day disabled list since July 18, was ordered to also stop running.
■ None of the Red Sox players in a series of meetings with the team's top brass called for Manager Bobby Valentine to be replaced, owner John Henry said, refuting a Yahoo! Sports report.
■ Pirates second baseman Neil Walker left Wednesday's game against the Dodgers during the first inning with a dislocated finger on his right hand. Walker leads NL second basemen in RBI (67) and is tied for the lead in homers (14).
■ A's slugger Josh Reddick was scratched from the lineup Wednesday because of complications from an extracted tooth.
■ Robinson Cano was held out of the Yankees' lineup Wednesday because of a stiff neck.
■ Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia will return to the rotation Sunday, and the team will shift impressive rookie fill-in Joe Kelly to the bullpen.