Everth Cabrera was banned for 50 games by Major League Baseball for using performance-enhancing drugs. Monday afternoon, he told his side of the story.
Cabrera started his news conference speaking Spanish, his native language, with an interpreter. In between tears, Cabrera laid out the circumstances that led him to taking banned substances.
Everth missed all but two games in 2011 with a shoulder injury. As 2012 Spring Training rolled around, Cabrera said the injury was only 50 percent healed.
That's when his former agent, Juan Nunez, advised him to contact Biogenesis, the Florida-based lab that led to a MLB investigation and Monday's suspension of 13 players. Cabrera said Biogenesis owner Tony Bosch gave him a package two weeks before the start of 2012 Spring Training, and he took the substance for only four days.
"I realized I didn't need it," Cabrera said through the interpreter. "My heart and my conscience were killing me."
Cabrera wanted to make it clear, he did not seek out the substance, nor did he take it to get an athletic edge, only to help his injury heal (which, in a way, IS an athletic advantage, but that's a debate for a different day).
In the end, Cabrera did not put the blame on the people who put the substance in his hands. He switched to speaking English and put the onus on himself, because ultimately, Everth Cabrera is the one who put it in his body.
"I made a mistake," Cabrera said. "All my responsibility, just me. I'm going to work very hard to be a better player for next year."
"I want to say something to the fans of San Diego," Cabrera continued, taking a long moment to control the tears welling up. "To come to the stadium next year. Because the whole reason for playing this game is for you guys. That's it."
I attended that news conference, and perhaps I was caught up in the emotion of the moment, but I saw real pain in Cabrera's face. To go off on a quick editorializing tangent, I believe he was a frustrated 25-year-old fearing for his Major League future, so he made a bad decision, and now he deeply regrets it.
The Padres have 52 games left in the 2013 season, so we won't see Cabrera until next year's Spring Training. Given time, and his heartfelt apology on Monday, it won't be at all surprising to see many Padres fans welcome him back with open arms.