By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Baseball Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Melky Cabrera's 50-game suspension comes just as reliever Guillermo Mota is nearing his return to the Giants from a 100-game performance-enhancing drug penalty of his own.
Yes, San Francisco now accounts for two of the four suspensions this season under the major league drug program _ and suddenly the Giants are back in the spotlight for performance-enhancing drugs several years after the club had finally moved forward from the Mitchell Report and BALCO mess.
"Unfortunately, these things happen in baseball," manager Bruce Bochy said. "There's not a lot you can do about it. I guess the best thing we can do is keep educating players so these things don't happen. I can't dwell on these things."
Cabrera, the 28-year-old MVP of last month's All-Star game, was suspended 50 games Wednesday following a positive test for testosterone. That puts an abrupt end to what had been a remarkable regular season and throws the Giants' playoff hopes into doubt.
"Ultimately, it was just a bad decision," catcher Buster Posey said. "That's all I'm going to say."
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 players' association. "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 Giants are no stranger to such cases.
Home run king Barry Bonds, who was in the stands for a 6-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday as the Giants played Day 1 of Cabrera's suspension, has long denied ever knowingly using steroids or performance-enhancing drugs and the 48-year-old slugger appealed his obstruction of justice conviction from April 2011 on one count of giving an evasive answer to a 2003 grand jury investigating illegal steroids distribution.
In the spring of 2010, former San Francisco outfielder Marvin Benard admitted he used steroids during the team's 2002 World Series season to deal with a nagging knee injury.
Benard was among the 85 players named in the Mitchell Report, handled by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, which was released in December 2007.
Specifically, he was named in sections on BALCO _ the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative _ as having obtained "the clear" and "the cream" from trainer Greg Anderson.
Now, the current Giants will try to make up for the lost production of the "Melk Man," as he became known.
The suspension would extend into the playoffs if the Giants advance.
"It happened, and now we move on," right fielder Hunter Pence said. "I know the program and I know they test us, and if we test positive we get a suspension. That's what happened. And now we play with what we've got."
Cabrera is batting .346 with 11 home runs and 60 RBIs in his first season with San Francisco and is five hits shy of 1,000 in his big league career. Flashing bright orange spikes, he singled and hit a two-run homer off Texas pitcher Matt Harrison last month in the National League's 8-0 win in the All-Star game, earning MVP honors for the game and securing homefield advantage in the World Series for the National League.
"When I give up a homer, it's a bad pitch. I don't think it really helps them hit home runs or singles, doubles or triples," Harrison said. "It was a bad pitch over the plate. But it's going to cost him now. ... He's having to pay the consequences for it now. At least he was honest and came forward about it and said he took something he wasn't supposed to do."
Cabrera is set to become a free agent after this season, so he might have cost himself a big pay day for next season and beyond.
"It's disappointing. Obviously, Melky means a lot to all of us, was part of our championship and provided some really good moments here," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Cabrera, who spent 2005-09 in the Bronx. "It's something that everyone has to deal with and it's something baseball is trying to stay away from and it happened."
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