Melky returns to Rogers Centre with Chicago

Outfielder left Toronto during offseason for three-year deal with White Sox

Melky returns to Rogers Centre with Chicago

TORONTO -- Melky Cabrera was back at Rogers Centre on Monday for the first time since leaving the Blue Jays via free agency to join the White Sox.

Cabrera spent a pair of seasons in Toronto, where he experienced mixed success. After most of his first season was hampered by a benign tumor in his back that severely limited his performance, Cabrera had a bounceback season in 2014 and was rewarded with a $42 million, three-year contract from the White Sox last December.

Ahead of the series opener, the 30-year-old said it was good to be back in Toronto.

"Learned a lot, especially from the Dominican guys. [Jose] Bautista, [Jose] Reyes, we are good friends and we keep in touch," he said through an interpreter.

The Blue Jays extended a qualifying offer of $15.3 million to Cabrera in November, but he opted to test free agency.

"We never got to an agreement," he said of his negotiations with the Blue Jays. "They told me to [go out and see what you can get and come back], and I got the best for me and my family, and I'm happy to be here now. "

So far, Cabrera has been unable to replicate his 2014 success with his new team. The outfielder was one of the Blue Jays' most consistent players last season, playing in 139 games while registering a .301 average with 16 homers and 73 RBIs.

But through 41 games in 2015, he's only been able to muster a .239 average with a single homer.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Cabrera hasn't been missing by much.

"He's hit the ball hard. Our last series, he lined out quite a bit, and it was on the barrel and it was hard," Ventura said. "It's a good sign to see that, but you're not guaranteed anything because you hit it hard. You always like the sign of a guy swinging that way and being on time, and he's been that way."

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.