SAN DIEGO -- All eyes will be on Melky Cabrera when he makes his long-awaited return to AT&T Park on Tuesday night against the Giants.
It will mark Cabrera's first game in San Francisco since he was suspended last August after testing positive for a banned substance. The Dominican native was arguably the Giants' best hitter at the time of his suspension, but was forced to watch the rest of the season from afar.
Cabrera declined to speak to San Francisco reporters on his way out of town last year and essentially disappeared after receiving official word from the league on the suspension, but he'll have to face the music once and for all when the Blue Jays' mini two-game set opens Tuesday.
"I don't worry about that, it's up to the fans. It's nothing I have control of," Cabrera said when asked what type of reaction he is expecting. "I'm just going to play the game. If they decide to boo, that's fine. If they decide to cheer, that's fine with me, too. But, I'm not going to worry about that. I'm just going to focus on the game and try to help my team win."
Cabrera received a 50-game suspension for his positive test, but could have been reinstated by San Francisco during the postseason. The Giants declined to make the move and instead kept him away from a team that would go on to win the World Series with a four-game sweep of the Tigers.
The decision didn't come as a major surprise considering several Giants players went on record late in the year saying they hadn't heard from Cabrera since he left the team. The Giants wanted to avoid the distraction of adding Cabrera to the roster and instead opted to stick with the status quo.
There's no arguing with the Giants' rationale considering they went on to win it all, but even if Cabrera felt betrayed he isn't saying so, at least publicly.
"That was their decision," Cabrera said through interpreter Luis Rivera. "I was ready after I was suspended. I went down and got ready just in case they needed me. They didn't need me at the time, they won the championship and I was very happy and glad that they did it with or without me."
Cabrera is a relatively low-key individual who doesn't always enjoy the spotlight that comes with being a Major Leaguer. He's soft spoken and manager John Gibbons has even described him as being shy, so it will be interesting to see how he handles becoming the center of attention in San Francisco.
The 28-year-old Cabrera said he doesn't intend to do much in San Francisco besides hanging out in the team hotel and getting ready for the upcoming series. The series opener will be far from a relaxing experience, but Cabrera at least knows he's ready for the challenge after making a slow start to the year a thing of the past.
Since being inserted into the leadoff spot on May 11, Cabrera is batting .324 (24-for-74) with a homer, seven doubles and 10 RBIs. Cabrera's sore hamstrings continue to be a nagging problem, but it hasn't had much of an impact on his performance at the plate.
"Every day, I'm feeling a little bit better," Cabrera said. "It's going to be a long season. Every day I continue to play I've felt better and better. Games and at-bats are making a difference for me right now."