Cruz remorseful; Rangers 'keeping options open'
Outfielder, whose ban ends with regular season, would be eligible for playoffs
ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, currently serving a 50-game suspension that runs through the end of the regular season, gave a brief statement to the media at the Ballpark in Arlington on Friday, once again apologizing for violating the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in relation and expressing hope that he will be on the postseason roster if the team advances that far.
"I want to apologize to the fans, the Texas Rangers organization and all of Major League Baseball for the mistake I made," Cruz said. "I apologize to my family. There have been a lot of people and fans behind me. It has been a really tough few weeks, but I have good friends and a good family. They give me the support I need.
"Hopefully, the team will go to the playoffs and ... give me a chance to help out."
General manager Jon Daniels said the Rangers remain open to the idea of including Cruz on their postseason roster.
"We've got to make the playoffs," Daniels said. "That's a big if. We're not taking anything for granted."
Cruz had been working out in the Dominican Republic since his suspension was announced on Aug 5. He came to Arlington earlier this week and will work out with the Rangers this weekend, then report to Arizona later next week. Cruz will work out in conjunction with the Rangers' Instructional League program in Surprise, Ariz., beginning on Sept. 13. He will also be allowed to play in Instructional League games, which will begin on Sept. 18, in an attempt to stay ready if the Rangers make the playoffs.
"We'll see," Daniels said. "Our thought process is just to keep him as ready as we can. If we're in the postseason, we'll make an evaluation. We're not going to get ahead of ourselves. We're keeping our options open."
Cruz, who was hitting .269 with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs at the time of his suspension, has been the Rangers' regular right fielder for the past four years. But the club, four days after the suspension was announced, acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the White Sox. Rios is now the Rangers' regular right fielder.
Cruz could come back for the playoffs as the designated hitter. The Rangers have been using Jurickson Profar as a part-time designated hitter while rotating other infielders through the position. Barring injury, that would be the most likely role for Cruz if he is on the postseason roster.
"Nelson has been here for a while and has some equity with his teammates, staff and the organization," Daniels said. "He made a mistake -- nobody is going to brush over that. We don't want to create the misconception we approve of that. All that said, we're keeping our options open."
Manager Ron Washington was among those who spoke with Cruz during his time at the Ballpark. Cruz is able to work out early with the team, but he must be gone once the gates open to fans.
"His spirits are high," Washington said of Cruz. "He doesn't look troubled."
Washington and other Rangers players have made it clear that they would welcome Cruz back if the club reaches the playoffs. Cruz has played in 34 postseason games with the Rangers, posting a .278 batting average, 14 home runs and 27 RBIs. His .683 postseason slugging percentage is the fourth highest all time among players with at least 100 at-bats.
"We're not looking for him to carry us," Washington said. "If we make the playoffs … just be a part of the lineup. He'll hurt somebody."
Cruz was suspended after admitting to using performance-enhancing substances during the winter of 2011-12. He was a client at Biogenesis, a now-closed Miami-area wellness clinic that allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a number of Major League players. Cruz admitted he "made a mistake" while trying to find a way to recover that winter from a serious virus that had left him in a weakened state going into Spring Training 2012.
Cruz did not answer questions on Friday because an investigation is still ongoing and due to legal proceedings involving Biogenesis.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.