Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz tied to performance-enhancing drugs

Posted Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Outfield in motion

Nelson Cruz could be slapped with a 50-game suspension if Major League Baseball determines that he purchased or used banned substances, leaving the Rangers' with a void in right field. Here are candidates who could fill it:

Mike Olt: The highly regarded prospect, a corner infielder, has had a small taste of right field.

David Murphy: The projected starting left fielder could move to right, though to do so could mean uprooting Ian Kinsler from second base to left field.

Mitch Moreland: The first baseman has played right field in his career. The Rangers could slide Lance Berkman, Kinsler or Olt to first.

Ian Kinsler: Why not right field after being considered for left field and first base this off-season?

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Nelson Cruz could be facing suspension and the Texas Rangers' outfield plans for 2013 have become clouded after Cruz was tied to a South Florida anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to six major leaguers.

The right fielder was one of five All-Stars who were named Tuesday in a report by the Miami New Times, which gained access to the files of clinic chief Anthony Bosch.

Cruz is referred to as "Mohamad" in the files. The New Times cited one entry from July that suggests Cruz paid $4,000 for supplements, one of which contained a significant amount of synthetic testosterone.

The Rangers said that they were contacted last week by the New Times, and informed Major League Baseball. ACES Inc., which represents Cruz, declined comment.

Cruz, according to a major league source, has sought the advice of the Players Association and will wade through the evidence against him before making any statements.

"Vigilance remains the key toward protecting the integrity of our game," MLB said in a statement. "We remain fully committed to following all leads and seeking the appropriate outcomes for all those who use, purchase and are involved in the distribution of banned substances, which have no place in our game.

"We are in the midst of an active investigation and are gathering and reviewing information. We will refrain from further comment until this process is complete."

Cruz has not failed a drug test, but he could be slapped with a 50-game suspension without pay should MLB's department of investigations confirm through its own ongoing investigation that he used or possessed a banned substance. A baseball official said that there is no timetable for the completion of the MLB investigation, and Cruz will be allowed to participate in baseball activities until a possible suspension is handed down.

His 2013 contract is for $10.5 million, and a suspension would cost him $3.24 million.

Alex Rodriguez, who admitted to using PEDs during his three seasons with the Rangers in 2001-2003, and Gio Gonzalez could also be suspended without a positive drug test. Both denied any link to Bosch or his Biogenesis clinic in Miami.

The other three players mentioned in the report -- Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon and Yasmani Grandal -- were suspended last season for elevated levels of synthetic testosterone after random drug tests.

Quoted by the New Times was an entry from Bosch in his log book that he sold $4,000 of product to Cruz.

"Need to call him, go Thur to Texas, take meds from April 5-May 5, will owe him troches and... and will infuse them in May," said the entry, which the report said was from July.

"Troches," according to the report, are lozenges that are 15 percent testosterone.

Cruz spent half of his off-season last year in Miami after leaving his native Dominican Republic to seek treatment for a stomach virus that cost him more than 20 pounds. He was 10 pounds lighter than usual at the start of the season, and he hit 24 homers.

That's five fewer than he had in 2011, but he collected a career-high 45 doubles and drove in a career-best 90 RBIs. He has 130 career homers, 108 of which have come since blossoming into an everyday player the past four years.

The most homers he has hit in any season were the 33 he swatted in 2009.

Many Rangers officials, including general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington, are in the Dominican Republic on their annual off-season visit to the club's Latin America operation.

They are contemplating ways to fill in for Cruz should he be suspended 50 games. They could use prospect Mike Olt, who could help replace some of the power that would be missing from a lineup without Cruz. Olt, though, has very limited experience in right field.

Another possibility on the 40-man roster is Mitch Moreland, who was an outfielder in college and early in his professional career before transitioning to first base. He has played 38 big league games in right, mostly as an injury fill-in for Cruz.

The Rangers could try Lance Berkman or Olt at first if Moreland is needed in right field, or they could move Ian Kinsler there and slide top prospect Jurickson Profar to second. The Rangers could also move Kinsler to left field, switch David Murphy to right and insert Profar at second.

The Rangers, though, have made a commitment to Kinsler to let him play second base after discussing a move to first this off-season.

The free-agent market has thinned significantly with spring training only two weeks away. The top remaining outfielder is Michael Bourn, a Gold Glove-winning center fielder and a client of Scott Boras, but a Rangers-Bourn match doesn't seem likely.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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