Anticipating a media spanking, they’d offered to assemble a solidarity flanking.

So that was Jose Bautista taking GM Alex Anthopoulos aside in the lounge here Friday morning, saying players would be “happy’’ to show moral support for drug-splotched teammate Melky Cabrera, newly arrived at spring training and scheduled to face a reporter inquisition.

“We didn’t think we needed that, but I thought it was nice that they would offer,’’ said Anthopoulos, himself just returned to Florida from a quickie trip to the Dominican Republic, whence originates so much of Toronto’s reconstituted lineup.

In any event, pre-emptive steps had been imposed to ease Cabrera’s formal entry into life as a Blue Jay. At 7:01 a.m., journalists received an email from the widely maligned outfielder, via the organization, ticking off a couple of the obvious talking points — except he would not be actually talking about it: the admission of using a banned performance-enhancing substance last season (caught), the 50-game suspension issued by Major League Baseball, his subsequent non-inclusion on the San Francisco playoff roster, even though eligible, and voluntarily removing himself from the batting race — mathematically all but in the bag — before the rules were adjusted to ensure no such embarrassing eventuality would occur.