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."