One of the most honest and genuine players on the Texas Rangers’ roster, according to general manager Jon Daniels, is Nelson Cruz.
And Cruz was as honest Friday as his lawyer advised him to be while addressing the media for the first time since he was named in a newspaper account about an anti-aging clinic that distributed banned substances to ballplayers.
There’s no miracle drug that slows the effects of being linked to an anti-aging clinic, except for being honest and genuine. A muzzled Cruz is getting older and guiltier by the day, even though a final verdict hasn’t been rendered and no one knows how long it will take for Major League Baseball to complete its investigation and decide Cruz’s fate.
For now, though, he’s guilty, like all the others who have been tied to the South Florida clinic or performance-enhancing drugs. That’s the world baseball players live in.
Cruz is trying to plug along, but admitted that it hasn’t been easy. He’s felt depressed and shocked along the way, but most of all can’t wait to tell his side of the story.
“As soon as it’s done, I’ll address it and tell everything I know,” Cruz said. “It’s going to be hard, but hopefully God will help me go through this. Hopefully I can go through this, and my family and friends have supported me well.”
That was part of the message Daniels and manager Ron Washington delivered to Cruz during a brief meeting Friday morning. Daniels said that he wanted to see where Cruz’s mind was, and the meeting ended with Daniels and Washington satisfied that Cruz won’t be too distracted.
But he will be distracted. He said that he thinks about the circumstances often and is asked about it wherever he goes. It’s likely that he will face more questions next month when he joins the Dominican Republic team for the World Baseball Classic.
“I want to speak and I want to talk, but my lawyer told me I cannot say anything right now,” he said.
Baseball, in full accordance with the players union, has tightened its drug policy. No longer does it take only a positive drug test for a player to be punished.
Commissioner Bud Selig has the discretion to levy a suspension if there is strong enough evidence that a player possessed banned substances.
Cruz has never been flagged for a tainted urine sample. But the Miami New Times report suggests that he purchased supplements last year that contain synthetic testosterone.
It seems hard to imagine that at the very least Cruz didn’t know Tony Bosch, who ran the Biogenesis of America PED den. A 50-game suspension is breathing down Cruz’s neck, or so it would appear.
“I don’t worry at all,” Cruz said. “I know it’s going to come [out] good, so hopefully it’s done right and quick as possible.”
The Rangers are moving forward with spring training. The first full-squad workout is today, and Cruz will take part as a free man.
But the Rangers aren’t fooling themselves. Mike Olt, one of their top prospects, will be in right field much of the spring as a power-hitting backup plan should Cruz get popped.
While other outfielders would be better replacements defensively, Olt has the potential to help pick up the production slack should the Rangers’ offense be without Cruz.
The 2009 All-Star hit 24 homers and 45 doubles while driving in 90 runs during a streak 2012 season. Whether those numbers were aided by banned substances is yet to be determined and won’t be until MLB finishes its investigation.
Until then, Cruz is guilty on all charges. While that’s patently unfair, that’s the world baseball players live in.
“The truth is, it’s part of the business,” Daniels said.
Among the truths that emerged Friday as Rangers position players reported for spring training is that Cruz wants to be unburdened by telling his side of the story, and that the Rangers are planning for him to be their starting right fielder when the season opens March 31.
And some day this season, suspended or not, the honest and genuine Cruz will tell his side of the story and finally be set free.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST