ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) — The Texas Rangers have been noncommittal as to whether slugger Nelson Cruz would return to the lineup for the playoffs. On Sunday, we got our answer.
“Obviously Nelson Cruz’ suspension is over effective today, and he will be active tomorrow,” said Jon Daniels shortly after the team secured a spot in a one-game playoff for an AL Wild Card.
Cruz arrived in Arlington on Saturday night after serving his 50-game suspension for alleged PED use as part of the Biogenesis investigation.
The former All-Star has been working in the team’s Instructional League, where he went 9-for-27 with five doubles and a homerun, collecting nine RBIs.
“For the most part he was playing younger players – A-ball and AA guys,” said Daniels. “He did see some guys that have a little bit of time. You do the best you can, and try to get him some reps to get his timing going.”
Cruz will be on the team’s 40-man roster for Monday’s game against Tampa Bay, but Daniels refused to speculate if Cruz would play, instead deferring to manager Ron Washington.
Cruz was unable to definitively answer the question as well.
“I think so,” said Cruz. “I’m going to be there. Whatever they need, I’ll be there for.”
Cruz is not likely to be used in right field, where Alex Rios has exclusively played since being acquired via trade.
Texas has rotated a number of players through the designated hitter position, including catchers A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto, as well as Jurickson Profar and the likely unavailable Lance Berkman.
Even without at bats against big league pitching, Cruz may be the team’s best option.
“I think all along, we think we’re a better club with him available,” said Daniels.
Some speculated that the Rangers would follow the example of the 2012 San Francisco Giants, who decided against reinstating Melky Cabrera following his 50-game suspension. But in the end, Daniels said the two cases, though similar on the surface, were very different.
Cabrera was signed just prior to the start of the 2012 season in which he was suspended; Cruz has been with the Rangers organization since 2006.
“That’s the system that’s in place,” said Daniels. “He’s served his penalty – 50 games – and in effect we did as well. It was 50 games without pay and he’s obviously addressed that.”
Cruz last appeared with Texas on Aug. 4 in Oakland, a game in which the right-fielder hit a solo homerun in the team’s sixth win in seven games.
Whether he plays or not, Cruz is just thankful to be back in Arlington — and thankful that his teammates are welcoming him back.
“It shows that they believe in me. I’ve been working everyday to make sure I am ready for this moment. As a team, make sure that we are together. We are a family, and that means a lot to me.”
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