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EXCLUSIVE: Melky Cabrera ruled ineligible to win batting crown

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EXCLUSIVE: Melky Cabrera ruled ineligible to win batting crown

Programming note: Catch complete coverage of the Melky Cabrera story tonight on Giants Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m., and get a recap of all the day's news on SportsNet Central at 6, 10:30pm and midnight, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

SAN FRANCISCO In an unprecedented agreement betweenMajor League Baseball and union officials, suspended Giants outfielder MelkyCabrera will be ruled ineligible to win the 2012 NL batting title, sources toldCSNBayArea.com.

Cabrera asked to be removed from consideration on Wednesday,when his representatives sent a letter to union officials. The PlayersAssociation worked out a one-time amendment to Rule 10.22(a) with MLB officialson Thursday, one day after Commissioner Bud Selig said publicly that he was not likely to take action on the matter.

Cabrera, who is hitting .346, will finish one plate appearanceshort of qualifying for the batting title. Rule 10.22(a) permits a player to berecognized as the official winner if extra hitless at-bats are added to hisaverage and it remains higher than any qualifying player. (Cabreras average would fall from .3464 to .3456 still.346 when rounded up.)

RELATED: Melky Cabrera career stats 2012 game logs News

Under terms of the agreement, Rule 10.22(a) will not apply to suspended players.

Cabreras request to refuse the extra at-bat is a clear attempt to rehab hispublic image and market value, both of which were tarnished by his Aug. 15suspension for testing positive for testosterone. The 27-year-old switch hitter sustained furtherdamage to his reputation through subsequent revelations that a liaison paid byhis agents, the Levinson brothers, created a phony Web site and product in anattempt to persuade the league that Cabrera inadvertently took a bannedsubstance.

In a statement to be released shortly, Cabrera said he had no wish to win an award that would be tainted, and that he believed it would be far better for someone more deserving to win.

The NL batting title now becomes a legitimate race betweenPittsburghs Andrew McCutchen (.339) and Cabreras former teammate, BusterPosey (.335). Both players are expected to be among the top finishers in MVPballoting as well.

No Giant has won a batting title since Barry Bonds hit .362in 2004.

I am grateful that the Players Association and MLB were able to honor my request," Cabrera said in a statement. "I know that changing the rules mid-season can present problems, and I thank the Players Association and MLB for finding a way to grant my request.

Cabrera was informed of his positive test at some point inJuly and the 50-game ban was announced Aug. 15 after his appeals wereexhausted. The Giants had 45 games remaining in the regular season when thesuspension was handed down.
REWIND: Cabrera suspended 50 games for positive testosterone test

The Giants could clinch the NL West title as early asSaturday, and in the event they play more than five postseason games, Cabrera wouldbe eligible to return.

Although Cabrera has not seen live pitching in more than amonth, sources tell CSNBayArea.com that he remains hopeful the Giants willdirect him to return once hes eligible. He continues to work out and keephimself in shape under terms of him uniform player contract, although sourcessaid he is not working out at any team facilities.

The Giants are not keen on bringing back Cabrera for thepostseason, citing the distraction factor as well as his questionable readinessfollowing a 50-game ban. But the club must remove him from the restricted listwhen his suspension is up. Although they could face a grievance if they do notadd him to the roster, the club could always cite baseball reasons for leavinghim aside.

Cabrera did not address his teammates after the suspension was announced; he had privately denied the positive test to Giants players and coaches when rumors began to swirl in the weeks preceding the Aug. 15 announcement, even blaming the whispers on Dodgers fans who were attempting to cause a distraction.

It was a hard fall for Cabrera, who had emerged as a fan favorite in San Francisco. Giants fans stuffed the ballot box to make the "Melk Man" theleading vote getter among NL outfielders for the All-Star Game in July. Cabrerawas selected as the MVP of the Midsummer Classic after leading the NationalLeague to a victory that secured home-field advantage in the World Series forthe NL pennant winner. Sources tell CSNBayArea.com that Cabrera has no plans toreturn his MVP trophy, however.

Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco, one of Cabrera's best friends on the team, said the suspended outfielder was embarrassed by his positive test. Cabrera's agent, Seth Levinson, said in a statement that his client is "truly humble person, is embarrassed by his mistake and sincerely regrets letting down his teammates, the Giants organization, and the fans. Since his suspension, Melky has been adamant that he did not want the batting title award, and that he wanted to solely focus on working hard to return to baseball so he could be in a position to win that award with honor.

Cabrera, a former New York Yankees top prospect, came to theGiants in an offseason trade following a breakout 2011 season for the KansasCity Royals. He will be a free agent this winter and was looking at a contractin excess of five years and 60 million before the suspension came down. Nowagents and league officials privately speculate that Cabrera will have to provehimself somewhere on a one-year deal and return to baseballs good graces.

His request to be removed from the batting race is a firstgesture to that end.

Giants Review: In limited time, Avelino was 'a breath of fresh air'

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AP

Giants Review: In limited time, Avelino was 'a breath of fresh air'

SAN FRANCISCO — Abiatal Avelino had just 11 at-bats in the big leagues in 2018, three of which resulted in singles. He left a much larger impact on the front office, though. 

When Larry Baer, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy met with beat reporters before the season’s final day, Bochy smiled as he recalled a conversation he had with the rookie in his office a day earlier. Sabean called Avelino “a beautiful young kid” and “very passionate.”

“He has a lot of fun playing the game, and that’s half the battle,” Sabean said. “He’s an interesting personality and I mean that in a positive way. He was a breath of fresh air, even though he didn’t play that much.”

Giants coaches noticed how Avelino seemed to grow two feet the second he got that first hit out of the way, brimming with confidence in subsequent at-bats. They noticed that he was often the first one out of the dugout, greeting teammates who had never heard of him a week or two earlier. He did all the right things off the field, and on the field, there’s plenty of talent. 

Here, Avelino is the latest profiled in our look at the 2018 Giants. If you missed any of them , here are Pablo Sandoval, Ty Blach and Nick Hundley. You can find the rest of them here

What Went Right

Avelino broke through with Double-A Trenton, hitting .337 with 10 homers, 28 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 49 games. That earned him a promotion to the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. His numbers took a dip there, but overall, he hit .283 in the minors in 2018, totaling 15 homers, eight triples, 13 doubles and 27 stolen bases for three affiliates. 

Avelino made his MLB debut on Sept. 8 and picked up his first two hits on Sept. 26. He singled off Clayton Kershaw in his second-to-last appearance of the season. 

Avelino did not play enough to make any kind of real determination about his defense, but he appears to be a true shortstop with the skills to play other infield spots, and team officials want to see if he can play the outfield, too. 

(Also he had one of the funniest celebrations of the season.)

What Went Wrong

It’s hard to take too much away from the Major League numbers. At two Triple-A stops, Avelino struggled a bit, posting a .663 OPS after a promotion with the Yankees and then going 2-for-13 with the River Cats. He was 23 and repeating Double-A, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that he dominated the level in 2018.

The Giants would like to see more from him in Triple-A early next season. 

Avelino is certainly fast, but some on staff believe he’s more of an above-average runner than the elite burner that his minor league stat lines say he is. That’s to be determined. He didn’t get to run much in September. 

Contract Status

Avelino was added to a 40-man roster for the first time in September. He has not used any minor league options. 

The Future

Avelino, acquired in the Andrew McCutchen trade, will play winter ball this offseason and the Giants will be open-minded about him when he arrives in Scottsdale. But a number of things will have to go wrong elsewhere for him to be in the big leagues early next season. He needs more minor league at-bats, but he should be a factor at some point in 2019.

It’s been a while since the Giants had a true backup for Brandon Crawford, and Avelino could become interesting quickly if he shows he can be a super-utility player.

Giants executive David Bell named finalist for Reds next manager

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AP

Giants executive David Bell named finalist for Reds next manager

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants continue their search for a new head of baseball operations, one of their top executives may be headed elsewhere.

The Cincinnati Reds announced Thursday morning that three men will get second interviews in their search for a new manager: Joe Girardi, Brad Ausmus and David Bell, currently serving as the Giants' vice president of player development. 

Bell, who joined the Giants last offseason, also reportedly has interviewed with the Rangers and Blue Jays. Some within the Giants organization have viewed him as their future manager, but it seems a decent bet that he'll get his shot well before then.

Bell was a manager in the Reds' minor league system earlier in his career and his father played for the Reds. 

The Reds had 12 candidates interview initially, according to MLB.com. Bell was joined by, among others, current Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens.