MINNEAPOLIS - Injured Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera underwent surgery last week to remove a benign tumour from his back.
With the diagnosis and subsequent procedure, from which relatively minimal recovery time is required, the club believes it has the answers to Cabrera's lack of mobility in left field and to the pain and weakness he was experiencing in both legs.
"I hope so," said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "You can never, I guess you go with the training staff and the medical staff and they feel pretty confident it's tough to play with something like that. I wonder how much it really bothered him when he was playing. We would have to force him to go get treatment on his legs. He didn't want to go in there."
Through the season, Cabrera had complained of tightness in his hamstrings. He spent three weeks on the disabled list, starting in late June, with tendinitis in his left knee.
Wanting to play, not given to making excuses, Cabrera didn't divulge the pain he was experiencing in his back until after he went on the disabled list for a second - and final - time this season. Then, tests found the tumour.
The mass, a fair size lump located in the L1 lumbar vertebrae, had been growing for an indeterminate amount of time. What the medical community understands well, however, is that tumours don't stop growing. It's a good thing Cabrera spoke up; otherwise, the mass would eventually have wrapped itself around Cabrera's spinal cord, causing all sorts of negative health effects and making removal complicated.
Cabrera should be healed from the surgery within a couple of weeks and the Blue Jays expect him to report, in good health, to spring training in February.
"I think it will make a world of difference," said Anthopoulos. "Even, again, the way he looked early in spring, I thought he swung the bat well and moved really well. It didn't make any sense for a guy who was playing centre field quite a bit to all of a sudden have the weakness in his legs that he was having."
Cabrera, 29, had a slash line .279/.322/.360 with three home runs in 88 games. He signed a $16-million, two-year contract in the offseason, coming off a 50-game suspension for performance enhancing drug use as a member of the San Francisco Giants.
The medical community doesn't link benign masses to steroid use. There have been malignancies linked to performance enhancing drugs.
Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons both applauded Cabrera for attempting to play through his ailments.
For now, in the early days of recovery, Cabrera rests.
"When it first came up he was scared, like anybody would be," said Anthopoulos. "You don't know. But now, I think overall, knowing the fact he's going to recover and going to be fine … I think he's just relieved he knows he going to be fine."