Despite report, Rangers GM maintains Cruz had final call on suspension ban

Posted Monday, Sep. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The ghost of Nelson Cruz appeared Monday in a story in which he dubiously asserted that the decision on whether to appeal his 50-game suspension was ultimately taken out of his hands.

“It wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Cruz told the USA Today in an interview published Monday.

He indicated that MLB officials were threatening a 100-game ban if he didn’t accept the 50, but he didn’t elaborate.

“I’d heard that prior to today, but I wasn’t involved in those discussions,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said, regarding a possible 100-game ban. “We’d had a couple of conversations so that we understood what direction he was headed in making a decision.

“We were obviously an interested bystander. As far as ultimately making the call, it was Nelson’s choice. You’d have to ask Nellie what he meant by that.”

The story served as a distraction from the task at hand: The Rangers face a 1-game deficit in the race for the second wild-card berth with seven games to play after Monday’s victory against the Astros.

The Rangers improved to 6-15 in September and 1-7 at home with the victory.

It’s hard not to wonder where the Rangers might be with the power-hitting Cruz in a lineup that has struggled to score runs down the stretch.

Cruz would be eligible to return if the Rangers advanced to the postseason.

Daniels remained noncommittal about that scenario.

“I don’t think it’s in anybody’s interest to talk about playoff rosters,” Daniels said before Monday’s game. “We have to go out and win [Monday] and go from there.

“We’re right in the middle of this pennant race. We have to go out and play our best baseball.”

Daniels also spent part of his pregame emphatically disputing another published report, calling Yahoo’s assertion that Rangers ownership pressured the front office to get the Matt Garza deal done in July a “fallacy.”

“I’m not saying that because [they write] the paycheck,” Daniels said. “It’s the truth. They have been as supportive as any ownership group in sports.”

Ogando arrives

Alexi Ogando wasn’t asked about Nelson Cruz, but the Rangers’ right-hander said he knows where his team would be right now if he’d been healthy all season.

A likely division winner.

Ogando, who battled shoulder problems all season, has given up one run on four hits and nine strikeouts in his past two starts, including seven innings of shutout ball Sunday in Kansas City.

“That’s the Ogando we thought we’d get out of spring training,” said manager Ron Washington.

Ogando will take the ball again Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.

No, no, no

Ron Washington did his best Dikembe Mutombo impression at the first utterance of a question about his job security, an issue first brought up by the manager last week.

“Don’t bring that in here, my man” was all the manager had to say about that.

Briefly

• It’s hard to imagine a role for Lance Berkman, the injury-prone designated hitter, other than as a pinch-hitter. He’s 0-for-12 since being reactivated Sept. 1 after lingering knee and hip issues kept him off the active roster. “It’s just his physical being period,” Ron Washington said. “It’s just not there.”

• The Rangers are 8-11 at home since the beginning of August after Monday’s victory. “I don’t think there’s any reason or can point to one thing,” said Alex Rios of the bad stretch. “I think it’s just bad luck.”

• The first 20,000 fans on hand for Tuesday’s Game 2 of the three-game series against the Astros will receive a Yu Darvish K-Counter bobblehead. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.

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