Giant Cabrera Used Fake Website To Bolster Defense

San Francisco Giant Melky Cabrera is serving a 50-game suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Over the weekend, the New York Daily News reported that Cabrera had set up a fake website to bolster a story that he didn't know what he was taking. All Things Considered host Audie Cornish talks with NPR's Mike Pesca about the story.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. The story of San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera has taken a strange turn. The slugger is serving a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Cabrera was having a banner year: MVP of the All Star game, the second highest batting average in the league. Then came the positive drug test, the suspension, and now reports that Cabrera and his associates set up a fake website to trick Major League Baseball as it was looking into the matter. NPR's Mike Pesca joins us now. And, Mike, start with the basics. What exactly is Cabrera accused of doing?

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: He tested positive for testosterone, a performance-enhancing drug, and under the mandatory sentences, that's a 50-game suspension, as you said, by Major League Baseball. And in trying to perhaps explain what the testosterone was doing in his system leads us to that website chicanery that you mentioned.

CORNISH: Yeah. Exactly. How does a fake website come into play here?

PESCA: Well, Melky and his associates, I guess, decided, you know, it would be a really convenient excuse if we were to say, oh, I took that testosterone by mistake. That testosterone was in an existing product. Unfortunately, that seems not to have been, you know, the truth. So what they did was they invented a website that advertised a product said to be a topical cream, and they submitted this to Major League Baseball, trying to, you know, get off the hook a little bit.

So this plan, the boldness of its ambition was matched only by the patheticness of its execution because it was pretty much seen through immediately, and it actually got Cabrera perhaps in a little more hot water. Federal investigators are said now to be looking into what Melky and his associate Juan Nunez did. Melky's agents say we had nothing to do with this. This guy Juan Nunez set up the website. He only worked for us, but not as an employee, but worked for us.

CORNISH: What's been the reaction to this story? I mean, I know there's been other performance-enhancing drug suspensions.

PESCA: Yeah. So Cabrera is not the best-known guy to be suspended. You know, Manny Ramirez got a big suspension for taking banned substances, and he's not actually the most accomplished guy. You mentioned that he was doing well in batting average, but last year's National League MVP, Ryan Braun, had a positive test for testosterone, which was later overturned on appeal. So inside baseball, they're saying the - all the right things that you'd expect them to be saying.

The league is sort of trumpeting how tough its policy is, and players and former teammates of Cabrera are saying, you know, how sad and disappointed they are. There are a couple of other maybe shoes to drop. In about eight days, the Giants have a guy named Guillermo Mota. He's a pitcher. He was serving a 100-day suspension - 100-game suspension because he's a multiple violator. You know, if the Giants welcome him back onto the team, perhaps that gives really the wrong message.

And Cabrera's batting average of .346, it's a weird situation. He could actually win the batting title if the guy who's first in batting right now comes down a little bit and there's a mechanism that he would qualify, Cabrera would qualify for the batting title even though he's one at bat shy or one plate appearance shy of technically qualifying.

CORNISH: Short time left here, Mike, but Cabrera's team, the Giants, are battling the L.A. Dodgers for the top spot in the National League West. What does his absence do for their chances?

PESCA: Yeah, it hurts it very much. They're a half game behind. And I know that Giants fans right now are saying it's natural to say, oh, no, what are we going to do without Cabrera? You did have his services for, you know, over 100 games, his drug-aided services. There's a stat called wins above replacement. Cabrera said to have contributed five wins more than average. You take off those five wins, they wouldn't even be in contention, so it will hurt.

CORNISH: NPR sports correspondent Mike Pesca. Thank you, Mike.

PESCA: You're welcome.

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