NEW YORK -- Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano talks with Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera after almost every game, and Alex Rodriguez spent the offseason working out with his former teammate, but there was nothing but surprise on Wednesday in the Yankees' clubhouse after news broke that Cabrera had been given a 50-game suspension for testing positive for testosterone, a substance banned by Major League Baseball, according to the league's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
While watching the news at his locker, Cano learned of the suspension handed to one of his closest friends from the five years they spent together with the Yankees.
"It's sad," Cano said. "It's sad to see a guy having such a good year, but he's a friend, and I'm going to be there for him. That's what being friends is all about. It's a sad day."
Cabrera, the Most Valuable Player of this year's All-Star Game in Kansas City, was enjoying his best year, leading the Majors with 159 hits and 52 multihit games while hitting .346, the second-best average in the National League. He never hit better than .280 during his tenure with the Yankees, which ended when they traded him to Atlanta after winning the 2009 World Series.
"Anger doesn't come to my mind; disappointment comes to my mind," said manager Joe Girardi. "Melky meant a lot to us, and we all enjoyed being around him."
It was a sentiment shared throughout the clubhouse.
Cano said he had yet to talk to Cabrera but was certain they would speak at some point. Rodriguez, on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left hand, planned to reach out to Cabrera before the Yankees' game against the Rangers.
In 2009, Rodriguez admitted to using steroids during a three-year period while with the Rangers. Likewise, Cabrera shouldered the responsibility for his failed drug test, issuing a statement that it was "the result of a substance I should not have used."
"From my experience, I saw that he made a statement, and that's always a good first step, and sometimes the hardest," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez took Cabrera under his wing after Cabrera debuted in 2005 as a 20-year-old outfielder in New York, and again this past offseason with a rigorous training program.
But like Cano, who said he was "100 percent surprised" and "never talked to [Cabrera] about anything like that," Rodriguez was caught off guard and unwilling to address what impact the banned substance may have had on Cabrera's improvement.
"It's not my job to sit here and speculate," Rodrgiuez said. "I saw someone who had a great run with us, was a key part of a world championship team in '09, had a down year in Atlanta and decided to take his career and work extremely hard. I saw him do that."
Stiff neck sidelines Cano against Rangers
NEW YORK -- Robinson Cano did not play in the Yankees' 3-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday due to a stiff neck, but manager Joe Girardi appeared unconcerned after the game.
"Guys sleep wrong sometimes," Girardi said. "We got a win without him. It probably doesn't hurt him to have an off-day, either, so it might play a big role as the season goes on and he gets a full off-day today, which was nice."
Girardi said the Yankees tried to get Cano ready to play, but the stiffness persisted; Jayson Nix started at second base instead. Nix went 2-for-4 with a pair of infield singles, a stolen base and a run scored out of the nine-hole, but Girardi would like to have Cano back in the middle of the order as the Yankees attempt to sweep Texas on Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
"Hopefully, he'll be ready to play tomorrow," Girardi said. "If not, we'll give him one more day. He's day by day."
Making progress, A-Rod set for more X-rays
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to undergo more X-rays on his fractured left hand on Sunday, likely giving the Yankees a better idea of when the third baseman can return from the 15-day disabled list, on which he was placed on July 25.
Rodriguez underwent X-rays on Tuesday that showed progress, allowing him to begin strengthening exercises. If Sunday's X-rays show similar progress, Rodriguez could begin swinging a bat. Thus far, he has been limited to running and throwing a football or baseball to maintain his arm strength.
In Rodriguez's absence, Eric Chavez, Casey McGehee and Jayson Nix have gone a combined 26-for-68 (.382) with seven homers, 15 RBIs and 17 runs scored in 19 starts at third base.
Girardi expected his entire bullpen except for Derek Lowe to be available on Wednesday after Hiroki Kuroda's two-hit shutout on Tuesday night.
On this date in 1955, switch-hitter Mickey Mantle homered from both sides of the plate for the second time of his career during a 12-6 win in the second leg of a doubleheader against the Orioles. Mantle went 5-for-8 with four runs scored and five RBIs to help the Yankees win both ends of the twin bill.
Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.